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What comes to mind when you think of negotiation tactics?
People in suits closing business deals?
Bargaining with a seller in a market?
Convincing your landlord to lower the rent?
How about all of these?
Negotiation Tactics Play a Key Role in Life
It’s tempting to think of negotiation only in terms of price, but the term represents many possibilities beyond money.
For example, if you’re struggling to negotiate your desired salary, you can negotiate the job benefits, the scope of work required, hours, or remote-work options.
In other areas of life, you can negotiate a better package with your regular service providers, you can negotiate better deals when shopping and you can even improve your relationships and expectations through effective negotiation.
What about business? Can negotiation tactics help you grow your business?
Research over the past few years says yes.
Whether you are an established CEO conducting high-profile meetings or a small independent seller collaborating with other business owners in your community, negotiation can significantly impact the rate of your growth.
Why Are Negotiation Tactics Important in Business?
Most business decisions can be improved by learning powerful negotiation tactics. Here’s a few reasons why learning to negotiate is important for growing your business.
- Improve Operations: Negotiation can help you find the right compensation package for your employees, get discounts from your manufacturers, have a successful fundraising round, and help you scale your business faster.
- Succession/Exit Plan: If you plan on selling your company eventually, negotiation can also help you find the right buyer at a great price.
- Improve Revenue: Done right, negotiation can help reduce business costs and increase profits. For example, negotiating better deals with suppliers or lower costs for rent.
- Business Relations: Negotiation can help you strike mutually beneficial deals that are not only profitable but also build positive long-term relationships.
- Life Satisfaction: You can also use negotiation in other areas of life like building healthy relationships or getting good deals on products and services. This will promote life satisfaction, creating an optimal mindset for success in your working life.
8 Negotiation Tactics to Become a Better Negotiator
Negotiation can offer great benefits, but it can also be challenging to enter a negotiation without effective negotiation tactics.
If you’re new to negotiations, worry not!
I have something for you.
1. Listen More Than You Talk
I used to think a powerful negotiator knew all the right things to say. I believed negotiation was about who could outsmart the person in front.
I was wrong.
Successful negotiation is less about talking and more about listening.
When you listen without waiting for your turn to talk, you begin to truly understand what the other party wants. This can help you strike a “win-win” deal so you get what you want and they get what they want. Everyone goes home happy.
This practice of being present in a conversation and listening carefully is called active listening. It helps people feel heard and understood. This can help build a good rapport, which can turn into a good deal.
Here’s a helpful graphic that dives deeper into how you can practice active listening.
2. Use the Framing Method
Perception can have an interesting effect on how we see the world. Take, for example, the following image. It is often used to highlight how perceptions differ.
Do you see an old woman? Or a young one?
We interpret information differently depending on how it is presented to us. It’s a cognitive bias called the framing effect. You can use this knowledge to improve your negotiations.
For instance, consider this graphic from The Decision Lab:
You can see that “80% fat-free” sounds more appealing than “contains 20% fat,” even though it’s the same quantity.
This principle can easily be used as a negotiation tactic. To do this, frame your negotiations as a win-win opportunity.
For example, let’s say you want to make a deal for $30,000 but your client is set on $25,000. Now, instead of going back and forth over the price, try reframing what you have to offer.
Can you highlight the potential savings your client can enjoy by using your product? Can you address the risk of not using your services?
Ask yourself “How can I frame this solution so we both win?”
Keep in mind that you are not necessarily changing the end result. You are simply changing the way you frame the conversation.
3. Prepare for Compromise
Sometimes you can have the best negotiation tactics in your toolkit and still have to compromise. Many times, you will have to give something up to reach a mutual agreement.
This isn’t always a bad thing.
All relationships require some level of compromise.
You can’t entirely prevent it but you can prepare for it.
Negotiators who enter the room with a plan are often more successful than those who choose to “wing it.”
If you know you may have to compromise, why not be prepared for it?
To plan for what you can and can’t compromise, ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up for this opportunity/deal/product/relationship?”
Focus on what really matters, and don’t let minor details derail an otherwise good deal.
4. Rank Your Priorities
Another important part of planning your negotiation tactics is ranking your priorities.
There are things you absolutely need to have in order to enter a profitable agreement. Then, some things may be “good-to-have,” but aren’t a necessity.
Rank these so your priorities are clear to you.
If you must compromise on something, you need to decide what you can give up. This is where priority lists can help.
For example, building a good relationship with a client may be more important for you right now than making a big sale. In this situation, you can compromise on the price and earn the trust and goodwill of the other party.
5. Make the First Offer
You might have heard the adage “never show your cards.”
Many people believe you shouldn’t make the first offer and let the person in front “reveal” their number first.
This doesn’t work so well in real-life negotiations.
In fact, I’ve found, when it comes to negotiations, you should always be the first to say a number.
Remember, the starting number sets the tone for the rest of the negotiation. Being the first to state a number puts you in control of the negotiation process.
This practice is called anchoring.
Even if your number is extremely high or extremely low, now you can steer the negotiation conversation in the direction of your choice.
If your first number is very high, you have biased the negotiations to skew higher.
In most cases, this absurdly high number will be disregarded, but you are already angling for a higher price than if you came in much lower at a “reasonable” price.
Here are some examples of anchoring presented in a graphic by AMGfunds:
6. Identify the Real Issue
In some negotiations, the problem and the solution might be obvious. For example, when you negotiate a salary, both parties know you’re asking for more money in exchange for continuing to offer your services to the company.
Sometimes the real issues aren’t as obvious.
Let’s say you’ve lost interest in your current job, and need some free time to invest in a side hustle. You go to your boss and try negotiating more PTO or similar benefits.
You haven’t communicated your true needs, so your boss may not understand what you’re looking for. Maybe they’ll offer you a raise.
They think they’re doing the right thing, but both of you are stuck in an awkward situation because you couldn’t communicate your actual issue.
This often happens in negotiations. People negotiate for money when they really want more time, freedom, consistency, flexibility, or even another employee for support with the expected workload.
If the goal of a good negotiation process is to solve the problem, then communicating the real problem becomes a key aspect of negotiation tactics.
To succeed at negotiating, you need to understand what solution or outcome you’re seeking. This means you need to communicate the real problem—not just the most apparent one.
This graphic from Olivier Serrat will help you understand how to use it:
7. Offer a Win-Win Situation
As we discussed earlier, framing your negotiation as a win-win situation can help you become a powerful negotiator.
Here’s why a win-win situation matters.
- It helps both parties feel comfortable about the deal.
- It establishes mutual trust, respect, and a good rapport.
- It focuses on problem-solving, getting to the heart of the problem.
- It eliminates the winner-loser power dynamic.
- It opens up the possibility for working together again.
When we frame negotiations as a win-or-lose proposition, we automatically start with the assumption that someone has to lose.
(Hint: No one likes to lose.)
When you enter negotiations with a win-or-lose mindset, your goal is to convince the other party to accept defeat.
Instead, a powerful negotiator frames the negotiations as a win-win opportunity, so everyone is satisfied with the deal.
8. Be Willing to Walk Away
If you’ve framed the negotiation as a win-win opportunity, tried your best to compromise, discussed the underlying problems, and still failed to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, it may be time to walk away.
Many people are scared of having to walk away from a negotiation. This makes them more likely to take a bad deal rather than have no deal at all.
This is a counterproductive approach.
Being prepared to walk away will give you an advantage. It may not be what you hoped for when you entered the negotiation, but sometimes it’s better to say no than sign a bad contract.
If you’re comfortable walking away from the deal, you can use it as leverage. By having other options, you’re already in a stronger position—and now you’ve got a new level of experience to bring to your next round of negotiations with someone else.
Frequently Asked Questions About Negotiation Tactics
Don’t say things like “let’s make this quick,” or “what about my profit?” This can make the person in front feel like you care more about your personal gains than the relationship you share.
Active listening can be an important negotiation skill as it helps you truly understand what the other person has to say. This helps you make better, more empathetic offers that are more likely to be accepted.
Many people believe negotiation tactics are manipulative and unethical, but that’s not true. As long as you’re respectful of the other person’s needs and committed to offering a fair deal, negotiation is perfectly ethical.
Negotiation is a skill anyone can practice. Even if you’ve never negotiated in your life, working with a simple negotiation technique can help you increase your confidence and improve your ability over time.
Negotiation Tactics Conclusion
Negotiation tactics sound intimidating. Like they’re reserved for high-profile business people in suits.
That’s not true.
Each of the negotiating tactics we discussed today is powerful alone, but together, their impact can be incredibly effective.
Try them, and you’ll see.
Which negotiation tactic will you try first?
One of the most frustrating things about SEO is getting everything to work together as it should.
If you’ve done SEO, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are so many little elements in SEO that sometimes it seems impossible for everything to work out perfectly.
Even today! I know I talk a lot about how “smart” the search algorithms are and how it’s virtually impossible to game the system.
However, there are still a lot of elements you need to pay attention to for your SEO to succeed.
Case in point: Page title tags.
Before you yawn and find some more sexy SEO topic to jam on, hear me out.
Title tags are one of the cornerstones of SEO. They always have been, and as far as we can tell, they always will be.
Moz explains, “Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.”
When it comes to low effort/big results, title tags take the cake. It’s such a small element, but has such a massive impact!
You know it’s important to create eye-catching headlines, but optimizing your titles also matters for SEO.
That’s where page title tags come in. They’re how your titles are relayed to search engines, and they’re an important part of any SEO strategy.
This is one of the few times when you need to write for both people and search engines, and that can be tricky. (Especially with headlines.)
In short, you have to create a clickable headline that also makes search engines happy.
Here’s the challenge: People have to like it. Search engines have to like it. Yikes!
Does that sound difficult?
Yes, it can be if you don’t know what to do. That’s why I’m going to break down my process step-by-step.
We’ll go through that process, but first, let’s look at why title tags are important for SEO.
What are Page Title Tags?
If you’ve ever used a search engine before (and I’m guessing you have), you’ve seen a page title tag whether you’ve realized it or not.
It’s simply the headline on the SERP (search engine results page).
For example, if you Google “kitchen appliances,” you’ll see that one of the top results is from IKEA.
In this case, the page title tag is “Kitchen Appliances – IKEA.”
This is what both people and search engines will see as the title of your page. Often, this is the first thing they’ll see, and that’s a big reason why it’s so crucial to put time and effort into your title tags.
The point you need to remember is this: real people are reading your title tag.
They are going to respond to it. They will judge it. They will be compelled by it. They will be put off by it. They will learn from it.
Basically, the title tag is your page’s message to the world!
Title tags work with the meta description (the text below the title). In the case of the IKEA search result above, this is the meta description — a sentence or phrase that adds more information about the page.
I’ve written about meta descriptions before, but title tags are even more important.
Both the title and the meta description together give a brief idea of what your content is about, but the title tag stands out more.
There are two big reasons why page title tags are so important.
First, if you have a clear title that’s relevant to your page, both humans and search engines will see that as a sign of a good page.
If your title tag isn’t optimized, then people could skip right over your content, and search engines may determine that your page isn’t as good as it could be.
A second reason why title tags are important is they show up in browser tabs:
So when someone wants to find your page out of all their browser tabs, they’ll look for your title tag.
Title tags are often what people will see if your page is shared on social media. For example, here’s an example of a title tag on Facebook:
Can you see why title tags are so important? A good title tag means maximum visibility, while a bad title tag can sink your page.
There are three important steps to take to optimize your title tags.
- make sure your headlines make for good title tags
- create the title tag
- make sure the title tag is optimized for SEO
Let’s dive into all three.
Step 1: Write Your Title Tag
You might be wondering how writing a title tag is any different from writing a headline.
In some cases, your headline and title tag will be the same exact title. But there are some cases where they won’t be.
Check out this SERP result from Copyblogger:
It seems like the title for the page would be “How Content Marketing Builds Your Business,” right?
But when you go to the page, you’ll see a different title:
The title shown on the page is longer and more descriptive.
So why would Copyblogger do this? It’s most likely because the shorter title tag looks better on the SERP, and it takes less time to read.
The actual title that you see on the page goes into more detail, and that’s probably why they used it. They get the benefits of having both a streamlined title tag and a descriptive page title.
It’s a sneaky and useful tactic that’s the sort of SEO stuff I love.
With that in mind, here’s how to write a great title tag.
There are a few elements of title tags:
Title Tags Should Be Short
Shorter titles are easier for people to read and for search engines to crawl.
But there’s a better reason for shorter title tags.
If your title tag is too long, search engines will cut off your title with an ellipsis (…):
Ideally, your readers and search engines should be able to see the entire title tag so they get the best idea of what the content is about.
Google typically shows no more than 60 characters of the title tag. So if your title tag is 60 characters or less, you can generally expect that the entire title will show.
If you want to make sure, Moz has a handy preview tool:
This is a great feature that I recommend you use. Remember, keep it short if possible.
Title Tags Should Contain Your Main Keyword
You probably expected to see something about keywords in an article about SEO.
For best results, try to put your focus keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible. That’s so search engines (and people) will see the keyword early on.
Here’s a title tag with the keyword right up front:
Contrast that with this result that has the keyword closer to the end of the title tag:
One tip: Make sure the keyword placement is organic. It’s preferable that the keyword is close to the beginning, but it’s not necessary for great SEO.
Title Tags Should Describe a Benefit
Much like a headline, a title tag needs to communicate a benefit to stand out.
This is one of many reasons Google warns against keyword stuffing and boilerplate titles.
Your title tags are representatives of your pages, and you want people and search engines to know that your pages have unique, valuable content.
Make sure your title tag is related to your content. It should read naturally and grab the reader’s attention.
Keep in mind, you’re not trying to trick people. All you need to do is clearly explain the benefit of clicking on the page.
Often, the “benefit” is nothing more than telling them what the page is about! At this point, you’re not trying to sell anything. You’re simply giving them information.
Here’s an example that clearly expresses a benefit (ignore the jargon-filled, not-so-great meta description).
On the other hand, this title tag is plain and doesn’t explicitly state a benefit (they did a nice job with the meta description, though).
(Sure, Amazon probably doesn’t need to state a benefit, but your site probably does.)
Stating a benefit probably won’t do anything for search engines, but it goes a long way for human users who come across your site with a search.
Step 2: Create Your Title Tag
Once you have your page title tag written, you need to set it as the title for your page.
The way you’ll do this will depend on what powers your website.
If you have a custom site, you’ll need to edit the HTML directly. (And it’s super easy to do.)
If you use WordPress, it’s also super easy.
If you use another CMS or host, it might look a little bit different for you.
Let’s take a look at each of these three different cases and how to create a title tag for each scenario.
Case 1: You Have a Custom Site Not Hosted on a CMS
If your site isn’t hosted on a CMS, you can edit your HTML to add titles.
First, you access the HTML for your specific page. I recommend checking with your hosting service on how to do this.
Once you’ve found the editable HTML, make sure you’re between the <head> tags.
(Note: This is an example code using Editpad.org. Your code will probably look different, and there might be extra code here. That’s okay––just make sure you’re only between the <head> tags and not any others.)
To create the title, use <title> tags. For example:
That’s it! Save your code, and your title will now show up correctly.
Case 2: You Use WordPress
If you use WordPress, you’ll be happy to know there’s a super simple solution — it’s actually way easier than editing the HTML.
In fact, this method uses something you’re probably already using: the well-loved Yoast SEO plugin.
This is a powerful plugin that you can get a lot out of. And it’s great for editing your title tags.
First, if you don’t have Yoast installed, go to Plugins > Add New.
Type “Yoast” into the plugin search bar.
Look for “Yoast SEO.”
Click “Install Now.”
Next, click “Activate.”
Now the plugin is up and running.
To edit the title tag for a page or post, navigate to that content and open the editor.
Scroll down to the bottom of your post or page, and you’ll see the Yoast box, where you can edit the title tag and meta description.
It’ll also give you a nice preview of both your title and meta description:
If your title tag (or meta description) turns out to display differently on the actual SERPs, you can always go back and edit it in this section.
Case 3: You Don’t Have a Custom Site or a WordPress Site
I know not all of you fall under these categories.
You might use a completely different kind of CMS, or your web host might have a different setup.
In those cases, I recommend contacting your CMS company or web host to find out how to access your HTML to edit your page title tags.
This is really a case-by-case scenario, so it will probably look different for a lot of you. However, you should be able to get an answer with a quick email to your web host’s support email.
So far, you’re two-thirds of the way done! Now you just need to make sure your title tag is the most SEO-friendly it can be.
Step 3: How to Optimize Your Title Tag for SEO
We’ve talked a little bit about this already, but there are a few more steps you can take to make sure your title tag is optimized.
This is the step that most people miss entirely!
They think, “Yay. I’m done with my title tag!” But they forget that one of the primary methods of marketing and promotion is through social sharing!
Here are my best tips for optimizing your title tags for social.
Use Your Brand Wisely
The title tag can be a great place to include your brand, but if you overdo it, you could face some consequences.
Google suggests using your homepage title tag to include the most branding. Their example: “ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle.”
For most of your pages, adding your brand to the end of the title tag will suffice (if there’s room, that is).
Here’s how I do that:
Prevent Search Engines from Rewriting Your Title Tags
You read that right: Sometimes Google will rewrite your title tags.
It’s crazy, I know! But why the heck would this happen?
According to Silkstream, “Google will automatically change how your title is displayed in the SERPs if their algorithm is under the impression that the page title doesn’t accurately represent the content on that page.”
So if your title tags don’t look good to Google, they’ll consider other factors, including:
- On-page text
- Anchor text
- Structured data markup
Take a look at this title tag:
If you go to the homepage and view the source code (right-click and select “View Source” or “View Page Source”), you’ll see the company set the title to be something else:
Google rewrote it because they felt their revised title tag would help people more than the original.
The good news: If you follow the steps outlined in this article, Google should keep your title tags as they are.
If you do see your title tags showing up differently, revisit them and try to identify how you can further optimize them.
Consider Making Your H1 Page Heading Different From the Title Tag
This is exactly like the Copyblogger example from earlier.
You can use two different sets of keywords in your title tag and H1, which organically enhances your SEO. Search engines will count the title tag as the “heading.” (Just make sure it’s optimized.)
Avoid Duplicate Title Tags
Google explicitly says that “it’s important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site.” So don’t copy and paste your title tags.
If you’ve done everything so far, you should now have an optimized title tag! Finalize it and send it out into the world.
Title Tag Frequently Asked Questions
Title tags are the title of a page users see in the search results. They serve as a first impression and can encourage — or deter– people from clicking on your pages.
Title tags are shorter and appear first in the SERPs.
Pay attention to the length, use the main keyword the page targets, and explain what benefit the user will get by clicking.
Between 50 and 50 characters. Any longer than that and Google may truncate your title.
Generally just one. You can add a second if it is closely related and makes sense. Don’t keyword stuff; the goal of the title tag is to explain what users can expect if they click.
Title Tag Conclusion
I know first-hand that SEO can be a headache., but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m all about demystifying SEO because I know it’s something anyone can do. Even if you’re a technophobe, you can do this!
It doesn’t take years of experience in digital marketing to get SEO right. You just have to learn the ropes and get used to it.
For example, creating page title tags is pretty simple. It might seem complicated at first, but once you take a peek behind the scenes, you see how easy it is.
If you’re not currently leveraging the power of optimized title tags, use this article to start doing that. It can be a game-changer and help your visibility on the SERPs.
Best of all, it only takes a few minutes.
What tips do you have for using title tags for maximum SEO power?
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