9 Negotiation Tips from Tech Execs

by Gloria Nichols

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I ran a blind survey of engineers and engineering management, asking them to rate themselves as negotiators. 204 responded.

>2 in 3  had major business or career events requiring negotiation in past 5 years

1 in 2 wished they had negotiated it better.

So I asked 3 executives for their negotiation tips.  I’d worked with all of them and consider them all to be incredible negotiators in achieving win-win outcomes.

Below are my short, edited excerpts of the negotiation tips and insights they each shared. Their advice is useful across most kinds of business negotiations.

Amit Gupta. GM, IC Verification Solutions, Mentor, a Siemens company

People negotiate with people

Do your research to know as much as possible about whom you are negotiating with. Map out goals, constraints & decision makers.

Timing matters –
Watch for opportunities

A deal that doesn’t work for the party you are negotiating with right now may end up working later due to changed circumstances.

Avoid negotiation fatigue

Know your tradeoffs to move more quickly to a solid agreement. Bogging down the discussions with lower priorities can work against you.

Jim Hogan, Managing Partner, Vista Ventures

Don’t declare unless it advantages you

Say what you have to say, then wait for the other party to respond.  If you don’t, you can end up negotiating against yourself; you can keep talking & digging deeper & deeper holes.

People often blame a non-present 3rd party

People will often cite factors beyond their control.  To keep things moving forward, discern & navigate thru true barriers vs. negotiating tactics.

Don’t take on matters not under your control

Deals are complicated enough, so maintain some ownership boundaries as you collaborate.  There are some things you simply can’t help them with.

Rajeev Madhavan, Founder & General Partner, Clear Ventures.

Understand your position

By thinking through your goals and separating out your most critical needs from the noise, you will be able to clearly communicate to the other party what you are seeking.

Understand their position

You will have greater success in focusing the discussion and finding common ground if you understand the other party’s priorities as well as your own.

Strike a win-win

A successful result means finding a win-win scenario where both parties walk away with pride, while laying the groundwork for a successful relationship.

To close on Rajeev’s last point, in real life, negotiation doesn’t have a fixed ending. Most of us will cross paths multiple times.

Going for an outcome that feels good to both parties builds longer term trust and is more sustainable.


Gloria Nichols does CMO and strategic marketing program consulting for technology startups. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BS in Engineering from Stanford University.