Ways to Get the Most from Negotiating via Email

Every day, more and more business folks are using email to help speed up the negotiation process. This creates new conflicts and challenges the traditional ways of face to face or over the telephone negotiating. In today's Top7Business article, I'm going to cover what I've learned after negotiating several contracts that ranged into the millions of dollars over the lifetime of these agreements, using Email as my primary communication method:

  1. The most important strategy, is to know WHEN to use Email, and WHEN to pick up the phone or arrange a face to face negotiation. Email negotiating can be very powerful when you work with someone who can relate and communicate effectively via email, and it can be a disaster if the other party isn't comfortable with this medium. Also, if your email negotiating even begins to get a hint of negativity, or that you feel that you're being misunderstood or you can't understand the end outcome of the person you're negotiating with, by all means, pick up the phone, and BREAK EMAIL SILENCE by calling them.

  2. Age range: It's been my humble experience that business people who are between 20 to 40 years old, are able to embrace and use email negotiating as par for the normal business day course, whereas older folks may resist or blow the deal off, if you're trying to use email to negotiate. The tell tale signs: Does the person you are negotiating with call you on the phone after each email you send instead of replying to it? Now, this is NOT true for all people, as I know several folks in their 50's and 60's that do not resist change and love email, but this is more of a generalization I've found to be true.

  3. LEVERAGE the power of email to ask questions you might feel squeamish to ask in real life. Dig deeper for other areas of common interest, and speak to the ego of the person you are negotiating with. Praise him or her works or efforts, and most of all, be humble via email if you want to get the highest return on your time. You'd be surprised at what you can draw out of a person via email, that you might not get in a face to face (FtoF) or telephone conversation. We're not talking trickery here, we're talking about taking an interest in the other person via email. Get them to talk more about themselves, and ASK open ended questions.

  4. Use emoticons to develop a friendly email relationship. You can also develop a stronger rapport with someone you've never meant, by just taking an interest in their special interests via an email discussion. Once you've found out their interests, why not send them URL's or gifts of information that might add value to their lives. This has helped to open up folks to better understand the kind of person you are, and be more receptive to negotiating via email.

  5. Take a look at yourself. Are you limiting the size of deal that you can negotiate via email? I'm here to tell you, that you can do multi million dollar deals nearly 95%+ via email, because I've seen it happen. For many, negotiating via email, is not about negotiating via email, but rather, it's just picking the communication that is the fastest to get the job done, with the outcome that you're after.

  6. Using time to negotiate via Email: Sometimes, not replying very fast can be used to indicate dis-interest by yourself. But, don't be caught in not replying quickly to the point where the other party feels like you don't care, and they need to move on. A fast response can indicate that you are either respecting their time and want to help move the deal along because it's important to you, or it can also mean that you want this deal MORE than they do, which is why you respond within minutes instead of days...and it may weaken your position.

  7. He/She who has the most information via email wins rule: Many times when negotiating via email, you can look at the headers of the email to learn about relationships, systems, vendors of choice and other vital info that is the unspoken message that your email communicates. Use this to your advantage or to make conversation via email to learn more of each other. Be careful not to use this as a weapon, but more to show your interest in the other party. Also, another hint: If the party you are negotiating with uses one of the free email services, they probably aren't worth your time. Real business people do not use free email services that tack on tacky 2-3 line email ads at the bottom of the email.

Bonus: I find that almost all of my email negotiations involve me doing a WHOIS lookup via the internic: http://www.internic.net/ to find out the owner of a domain and/or other relationship info. You owe it to yourself to get to know this resource.

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