Maxwell Stephens

How to Negotiate Business Deals Like a Poker Pro

Position is Everything

Being on the button is the ideal position in poker. In other words, acting last, after everyone else has decided. Being at the bottom allows you to make decisions with complete knowledge because you know what everyone else is going to do, whether it be to match the bet, increase the bet, or fold your hand. The similar strategy should be used for business talks. Wait patiently for the other parties to make their initial bids so you can get an understanding of where they stand and adjust your counter-offer accordingly. This will prevent you from selling yourself short by making an offer that is too low.

Don’t be Afraid of the Re-raise

Re-raising in poker is a tactic in which a player raises the bet and then a different player raises that player’s raise. It can be scary to do that in poker and in business negotiations. It can be tempting to accept a first offer if you really need the deal, but if you’re willing to accept that offer, don’t be afraid to try and re-raise it. The worst that can happen is that they’ll say no and if they do, you’re no better or worse off than if you hadn’t tried. But, re-raising can lead to better payments, terms or additional add-on requests that you never would’ve gotten if you didn’t try.

Keep a Poker Face

Appearing desperate for a deal will ultimately cause a negotiation to sink, so make sure to keep a poker face. In poker, envisioning that you have pocket aces, (regardless of what you actually have) can help you appear calm, so do the same in your business negotiations. Imagine that you have all kinds of big deals lined up and that you don’t really need the deal. Be aware of what your body language is like and what your tone of voice and word choices are communicating. Keeping a poker face will ensure that you don’t show your cards too soon. And on the flip-side, look for those same signals from the parties that you are negotiating with, it can help you adjust your counter-offers and maximize your negotiation efforts.

Be Careful When Bluffing

Bluffing in poker is where you bet or raise with a hand that isn’t very good, with the intent of getting other players to fold. Bluffing is risky, so be careful if you bluff in your business negotiations. If you act like you are ready to walk away from a deal when you’re not, the other party may call your bluff and you can either look foolish and unprofessional when you inevitably re-consider or worse, lose the deal entirely.

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