How To Negotiate Successfully

Home Staging Business Training Ultimate Academy Blog

There are a few certainties in life: buttered bread always falls face down, the years go by faster the older you get, and in order to build a successful business, you will need negotiation skills. 

While it is true that most people do not possess these skills naturally, they can be learned. In fact, anyone can become an expert negotiator. It simply takes planning and practice.

Planning

The negotiation begins long before you face the client. One of the biggest errors you can make is to come to the meeting unprepared.

Begin by understanding what the client needs. Knowledge is key; review your Pricing/Estimate/Assessment Reports and prepare your services in advance. 

Next, determine what you need. Know your bottom line and how low you are willing to go on your price. Once you know where you stand with this, you have extreme power in the negotiation.

Research your competition; have a clear idea of what they charge. If you price your services higher, be prepared with the reasons why your company is worth the extra money. Decide ahead of time what you are willing to compromise on. 

Every relationship requires give and take; the one between you and your client will be no different. Preemptively planning to compromise puts you in a stronger position.

Tip: Come to the negotiation with a list of creative ways to provide value without compromising your price.

Rather than reducing your fee, provide additional staging accessories or offer to professionally organize an additional closet for no extra cost. Your list will comprise items or services that you can give away for “free” that will not impact your bottom line. 

Your client will perceive the added value you are providing, and you will be able to earn their business by including an “extra” that costs less than a reduction in your fee. 

Having this list on hand during the negotiation ensures you will react in a positive manner to any pushback.

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The Negotiation

  1. Start with a Higher Fee:

    • Reasoning: Starting the negotiation with a fee that’s higher than what you expect to receive creates necessary “wiggle” room. This flexibility is essential in negotiations, making you appear resilient rather than rigid.
    • Impact: An initial high offer sets an anchor for the negotiation, positively influencing the client’s perception of your service value and strengthening your negotiating position.

  2. Listen Actively:

    • Understanding Needs: Pay close attention to what the client prioritizes, whether it’s cost, the need for compromise, a particular deal, or specific services they value or do not need.
    • Observing Body Language: Body language is a significant part of communication. Being attuned to non-verbal cues can provide insights into the client’s real concerns and priorities, enhancing your ability to respond effectively.

  3. Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Cues:

    • Importance of Body Language: Recognize that body language accounts for 55% of communication. This is especially crucial during bargaining, as subtle messages conveyed through body language can offer valuable clues on how to steer the negotiation.

By breaking down the negotiation process into these structured steps, you can approach each phase with a clear strategy and purpose, enhancing your effectiveness as a negotiator.

Tip: Once you are aware of what is important to the clients, you can customize your compromise.

Is there a “special” price you can offer the clients to address their need for a “deal”? This can be done when initially presenting the price by mentioning a regular price and then a discount or promotional price, negating their need to negotiate or ask for a deal.

Is there an item or service you can remove from the project that is not a priority for the clients? This will provide a compromise and reduce your fee.

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Closing the Sale:

There are specific strategies you can use to your advantage when closing the sale.

  • Create a sense of urgency. Make the clients feel that they will be missing out if they do not go ahead with your services today.

  • Provide a reason for the urgency, such as: your sale ends soon, or you may have a nearly full schedule or large project beginning next month which will prevent you from taking on any new clients.

  • Make a connection with the clients. People deal with people they like, people they trust, and people who are just like them. Be friendly and authentic.

  • Display your knowledge. Remember, you are an expert in your field!

  • Do not be afraid of the word “no”; it simply signals an opportunity to problem-solve. Consult your list of compromises to see which one offers the best solution.

  • Keep in mind that negotiation is expected. Should you immediately agree to your client’s counteroffer, he

FAQs About Negotiating

Negotiation in business is an art that combines several key skills to ensure success. These include:

  • Clear Communication: Articulate your points succinctly and clearly to avoid misunderstandings. In home staging, this means explaining your design choices and how they align with the client’s goals or market trends.

  • Active Listening: Pay close attention to what the other party is saying. This skill helps in understanding the client’s real needs and concerns, which might not always be directly stated.

  • Preparation and Planning: Enter negotiations with a solid understanding of your services, pricing, and the limits of what you can offer or accept. For home stagers, knowing the cost of your services and the value they add to a property can make negotiations smoother.

  • Understanding Body Language: Non-verbal cues often communicate more than words. Being able to read and respond to body language can give you an edge in negotiations.

  • Emotional Intelligence: Managing your emotions and empathizing with the client can help in maintaining a positive atmosphere during negotiations, even when discussions become challenging.

Ultimate Academy®’s Home Staging Course emphasizes these negotiation skills, particularly in its second part, which covers business, sales, and marketing components essential for a thriving home staging career.

Quick improvement in negotiation skills is achievable through:

  • Practical Experience: Engage in real-life negotiation scenarios or simulations. For home stagers, practicing negotiations with peers or mentors can provide valuable insights.

  • Seek Feedback: After a negotiation, reflect on what went well and what could be improved. Feedback from clients or mentors is invaluable for growth.

  • Educational Resources: Books, courses, and workshops on negotiation can provide new strategies and perspectives. For home stagers, focusing on resources specific to the real estate and interior design industries can be particularly beneficial.

Effective negotiation strategies include:

  • Research and Preparation: Know your market, including the average cost of home staging services, and understand your client’s profile and needs.

  • Value Articulation: Clearly communicate the benefits and unique aspects of your service. For a home stager, this could involve discussing your approach to maximizing a property’s appeal and the potential return on investment for the client.

  • Flexibility: Be prepared to adjust your offerings to meet client needs without compromising your core values or profitability.

Ultimate Academy®’s Home Staging course equips students with strategies to confidently initiate negotiations, emphasizing the importance of preparation and presentation in securing favorable outcomes.

Handling difficult clients during negotiations requires a strategic approach:

  • Empathy: Try to understand the client’s perspective and concerns. This can help in finding common ground.

  • Clear Boundaries: Know what you are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable. For home stagers, this might mean setting clear boundaries around budget, project timeline, or design choices.

  • Professionalism: Maintain a professional demeanor at all times. This helps in keeping the discussion focused and productive.

  • Problem-Solving: Offer creative solutions to address the client’s concerns. This could involve presenting various staging options that fit within the client’s budget or timeline constraints.

To ensure successful negotiations, avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Inadequate Preparation: Entering negotiations without a clear understanding of your services, pricing, and the client’s needs can lead to unfavorable outcomes.

  • Poor Communication: Failing to listen actively or articulate your points clearly can result in misunderstandings and missed opportunities.

  • Inflexibility: Being too rigid in your demands can turn clients away. It’s important to find a balance between standing firm on your value and being open to compromise.

  • Failing to Read Non-Verbal Cues: Missing out on the silent messages being communicated can hinder your ability to respond effectively.

  • Neglecting the Relationship: Focusing solely on the deal and not on building a positive relationship with the client can affect long-term success.

In the field of home staging, where the visual and emotional impact of your work plays a significant role, honing your negotiation skills is crucial. By avoiding these common mistakes and applying strategic approaches to negotiation, home stagers can achieve better outcomes for their business and their clients.

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