Alex Kouts (@akouts) is a teacher, adventure technologist, Chief Product Officer of Countable, and — as you’ll soon discover — quite savvy in negotiation. This is part two of a three-part series. Make sure to check out parts one and three!
What We Discuss with Alex Kouts:
- How to control a negotiation by making the other side reactive.
- Common mistakes that result in amateurs (and sometimes even professionals) negotiating against themselves.
- Understand how to use strategic silence — and know when strategic silence is being used against you.
- How negotiations tend to differ for women and men.
- What we gain by giving the other party the illusion of control over the negotiation and what we can do to nudge them in that direction.
- And much more…
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Like salesmanship, negotiation is a valuable skill that many hesitate to master because of unfairly attached negative qualities that have come to be associated with it. Some think of it as the dark arts for persuading others to do one’s bidding against their own self-interests, but done properly, it results in wins for both sides of the table.
Business developer, startup veteran, Countable CPO, and professional negotiator Alex Kouts joins us for this first episode of a multi-part series to share his expert secrets of negotiation with those of us who feel a little squeamish at the prospect of getting a “yes” in a world that actually finds it surprisingly hard to say “no.” Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Alex Kouts joins us once again for round two of his best negotiation secrets! If you missed the first part, make sure to check it out here.
Responding to Job Offers for Maximum Impact
Alex takes us through the process of responding to a job offer and sending a counteroffer. These sample letters should help you craft your own when the time comes.
Letter One [Strong Response]
Bob, [First name: power play.]
I appreciate the consideration and the offer. I truly enjoyed our conversation and feel great about the team and company. [Reiterate passion; set the tone.]
I need to evaluate this based on other opportunities I am looking at and will get back to you shortly. [Display social proof/market validation.] As I am doing that it would be helpful to know if there is any flexibility in the terms? [Put them on the defensive.]
I look forward to your response. [Power close.]
Alex “Dream Employee” Kouts
Letter Two [Counteroffer]
Bob, [First name: power play.]
I appreciate the consideration and the offer. [A meaningless courtesy that doesn’t do much, but when it isn’t there, people notice.] I am very excited about the team, the product and the direction of the company. I know I can make a big impact on the organization. [Reiterate passion and set the tone for the back-and-forth. Also a power play.]
Based on other opportunities I am looking at, I feel xxx,xxx,xxx.xx is a fair number for what I can bring to ______. [12%-15% above the offer is optimal. Higher, and you risk insulting them or pricing yourself out of the job. Lower and you could be leaving money on the table.] If you can match that I am ready to sign today and will give my notice tomorrow. [This is the most important part. Present a slam dunk and dare them not to take it. You are coming over the top with enthusiasm; it’s a power play and almost always pays off.]
I look forward to your response. [Power play; leave them with good vibes.]
Alex “Dream Employee” Kouts
Always use first names (caveat: unless their title vastly exceeds yours — if they’re on LinkedIn, use how they address themselves there as a reference.)
- Never make the first offer.
- Thank them.
- Set the tone for the negotiation.
- Display social proof/market validation.
- Set your “ask.”
- Help them visualize the win.
- Reiterate interest and close strong.
Negotiating for a Car/Motorcycle/Mattress
Alex shrewdly picked up a mattress for his girlfriend — plus a box spring, plus a frame — for less than half of what the salesman was originally asking for the mattress alone. Here’s his list of things you can say or do when negotiating for something like a car, motorcycle, or mattress — keep this handy on your phone so you can put it to use next time you’re trying to get a good deal!
- First establish a baseline — use Google.
- Ask if they will match advertised prices from a competitor.
- “What is your best out the door price?”
- “Will you do that -10%?”
- “If you reach my price, I will buy today.”
- “I am on the phone with xxxx; they have this advertised for $xxxx. Can you beat that?”
- “If I buy here, will you throw in xxxx?”
- “What if I pay cash?”
- “Okay, thank you. It’s helpful to know where you stand. I am going to check out a couple of your competitors and will be back if it makes sense.”
- WALK AWAY.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about Alex’s secret sauce to winning a negotiation he knows the other side is eager to end, what we can do to mitigate the back-and-forth in a negotiation, the maximum number of counters ideal in a job negotiation, the power we wield when we’re ready to walk away from a negotiation (as illustrated by a childhood story about Alex’s mom terrorizing a car dealer), how to maintain a positive frame of mind and nurture collaboration during a negotiation, using body language for appropriate effect, how poker skills translate to negotiation, how we should respond to a job offer for maximum impact, how Alex negotiates for a new mattress (and why there’s so much pricing leeway in the bedding industry), and lots more, why you should never feel bad when you talk a salesman down to “letting something go” at what seems like a ludicrous discount, and lots more.
THANKS, ALEX KOUTS!
If you enjoyed this session with Alex Kouts, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- TJHS 70: Alex Kouts | The Secrets You Don’t Know About Negotiation Part One
- Alex’s Pre-Negotiation Worksheet
- Alex’s Mastering Negotiations Workshop
- Alex at Twitter
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
- Farmers Only
- Lie: The Love and Terror Cult by Charles Manson
- Phil Ivey
- Jack Donaghy Psyching Himself up in Front of a Mirror, 30 Rock
- Berserkir by Danheim
- TJHS 57: Phil Hellmuth | The Winning Strategies of a Certified Poker Brat
- Terror Management Theory (TMT), Ernest Becker Foundation
- Angelo’s Mom Makes Baklava, FlyingOverTr0ut
- The Isuzu Trooper Was Also a Subaru, an Acura And…The Holden Jackaroo by Doug DeMuro, Autotrader
- I Am the Law, Judge Dredd
- Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication by Nagesh Belludi, Right Attitudes
- The Science Behind ‘The Manspread’ According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBC News
- Best Mattress Stores in San Francisco, CA, Yelp