Negotiating is a skill often associated with sales roles, but the truth is, you can benefit from learning how to negotiate no matter what position you hold within a company. These skills are especially important to those in the marketing department, since these individuals are responsible for getting budgets approved by senior management and working directly with clients on their marketing campaigns. What negotiation skills should you perfect? Here are the tactics that will help you get clients to say “yes:”

Make the First Offer

When you take the initiative to make the first offer, the other party will probably counter with a slightly lower offer. This is a much better position to be in than having the other party submit a low offer first and having to negotiate your way up. For example, let’s say you are trying to convince your client to spend $20,000 on a new campaign. Put this number out there, and they may counter with $15,000, whereas if they spoke first, they would have suggested $10,000. Speak first in negotiations and you will have all the power moving forward.

Negotiating SuccessMimic Body Language

Studies have found people who get along tend to mirror each other’s behavior, so use this finding to strengthen your negotiation skills. The next time you sit down with a client, pay close attention to his or her mannerisms. Try to mirror the other party’s facial expressions and speech patterns and before you know it, you may begin to understand each other and get on the same page.

Choose Your Words Wisely

Many people enter a negotiation thinking it will end with one party being the winner and the other, the loser. But, try to move your clients away from this way of thinking by using plural first person pronouns. Choosing “we,” “our,” or “us” tells the other party you are working towards a solution that both parties will be satisfied with. Regardless of what concessions the other party has to make in order to reach a deal, they will probably walk away from the negotiation thinking they made the right choice for everyone involved.

Don’t Use an Ultimatum

It may be tempting to make an offer and tell your client if he doesn’t accept it, you’re ready to walk. But, it’s best to avoid using ultimatums to get what you want out of a negotiation. Even if you come out on top, the client won’t be happy with the tactics you used to get there.

Make Small Talk

A study done in 2002 found negotiators who took time to “schmooze” with the other party were more successful than negotiators who went straight into talking about business. So, before you begin to get down to the terms of an agreement, try to work in some small talk. Ask where the client is from, what her favorite sports team is, or where she lives in town. This may seem like it’s too simple to be true, but the study found people who schmoozed reached an agreement 59% of the time, while people who didn’t only made an agreement 40% of the time.

Next time you have to negotiate anything—whether it is a pay raise, a deadline extension, or a new marketing budget—be prepared to incorporate these tactics into your strategy!


  • Nick Rojas

    Nick Andrew Rojas is a journalist and a self-taught serial entrepreneur who has worked with various startups as a business consultant. His work often discusses marketing, business and technology. He loves to connect so reach out on Twitter! @nickarojas. Nick volunteers for AMA Boston in his (limited) spare time.