The #1 Digital Agency Podcast for Social Media, SEO, PPC & Creative Agencies

Every agency owner needs solid negotiation skills to feel more confident when dealing with clients. Mori Taheripour is an executive and award-winning educator who focused her career on negotiations. She currently teaches at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and works privately with entrepreneurs, corporations, foundations, and universities. She wants to make negotiations more accessible and help people realize it's a skill we all have and are better at than we realize. In this episode, she discusses why negotiations make people anxious and how you can get better results by being prepared and understanding motivations and your values. Mori also explains why you should be curious and avoid just wanting to be right, plus her new book, and much more.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Making negotiations accessible. Most people get really anxious about negotiating and think about it as a mere transaction. Somebody wins, somebody loses and that’s it. Mori believes that is just a small slice of the pie. Negotiations are more than that. People maybe link them to negative experiences or think they are not combative enough to be a good negotiator, but we actually negotiate every day. It’s a skill that we all have and could get better at if we change our perspective. And the first step is to be prepared and understand yourself, your motivations, and your values.
  2. Be curious. The fact that most people think about negotiations as a win or lose scenario means they’re not thinking about long-term solutions that focus more on the relationship. Think about a divorce or a separation from your business partner. Those negotiations don’t necessarily have to become a conflict. You need to be able to clearly explain your why’s and be curious about theirs. Don’t assume that you have all the answers. Don’t come to the negotiation just expecting to be right. Especially if listening can lead to a solution that benefits both parties and preserving a relationship.
  3. Not all about prices. If negotiations were just discussions about pricing, Mori says she wouldn't be teaching it. It's not fun, it's dreadful. It should be about educating your client about what you can offer them and why you do what you do. Tell them how passionate you are about your mission. Make it a conversation so you can also get to know their motivations and their whys. At the end of this, now it's time to discuss pricing, and by then your value and the benefits they will get from contracting your services should be very clear to them. If it's not, it doesn't mean you should now start lowering your prices. It's ok to not want to negotiate that point.

Sponsors and Resources

HighLevel: Today's episode is sponsored by HighLevel, an all-in-one marketing platform that will give you the tools, support and resources you need to succeed with your agency. Head over to gohighlevel.com/swenk to enjoy an exclusive 30-day free trial.

Subscribe

Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM

Learn to Negotiate Successfully and Never Have to Lower Your Prices

Jason: [00:00:00] Hey, what's up, agency owners? I'm excited to have you back for another episode. I have an amazing guest and we're going to talk about negotiating, which is always a fun topic, and I'm really excited to get into it. So let's go ahead and start the episode.

Hey, welcome to the show.

Mori: [00:00:25] Hey, Jason. How are you? Thanks for having me.

Jason: [00:00:27] Yeah. I'm excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do?

Mori: [00:00:32] Um, so Mori Taheripour. I teach at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, uh, for part of my life. I teach in legal studies and business ethics department, and largely I focus on negotiations.

So, um, apart from Wharton, which is where I do most of my teaching, um, I've worked with entrepreneurs and, um, corporations and foundations and universities. And spend most of my time focused on teaching people how to negotiate successfully, um, and, and doing so from a very different perspective than most negotiation classes.

So that's, that's really the focus of my work. I do some work in sports. I'm also focused on teaching, um, working with athletes and, and helping them as they think about transitioning out of the sport. And some diversity and inclusion work.

Jason: [00:01:22] Very cool. Awesome. Let's talk about negotiating and kind of, you know, everyone listening is obviously done negotiating, you know, their whole career.

Um, so talk about kind of the first step in negotiating. How can you set up where you're positioned better?

Mori: [00:01:41] So let me go back just a little bit. I think it was funny when I heard the intro and you said we're going to talk about something fun: negotiating. Most people don't think about negotiations and think it's fun.

Um, in fact, a lot of people are very anxious about it. And that's because, um, they have bad experiences. They think about that one negotiation that they had, that they thought they did really poorly in. Or a divorce or whatever negative experience that they've had around negotiations. And oftentimes they think about it as such, because they, they think about negotiations as being a mere transaction.

Somebody wins, somebody loses. Black and white, that's all it is. And so people who, a lot of people are this way, they're not very combative, right? They don't really want to argue and bicker. So they think, oh, I don't want to negotiate, right? Whatever they can do to avoid it, get an attorney, whatever it is. Um, but the truth is that that's really not what negotiations is.

I mean, it's a small slice of the pie. But negotiations is something we do all the time. And each and every person who's listening to this, or, you know, parents, um, daughters, sons, uh, teachers, right? These are individuals, all of us who negotiate from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we get to sleep at night, right?

So the reason I want to start there is because I want people to understand that this isn't a skill that they're not familiar with, or they have a bad memory of. It's a skill that they use daily that they're probably a whole lot better at that they even think they are, right? But they don't think of those conversations as being negotiations.

And so what, you know what, I just wrote this book that I terribly launched, um, right at the beginning of the pandemic. So not the best time to release a book. But putting that aside, um, the, the reason I decided to write this book was really sort of at the heart of this conversation was to make negotiations something that's really accessible and, and a lot of people are really good at. And so they're using this opportunity to just become better, um, and, and doing so by better understanding themselves.

So long answer to your question. Fundamentals are important. One of them is preparation. And, um, most people who learned about negotiations, read a book, see an article, listen to a podcast are taught, you know, that you are best when you prepare really well.

That's absolutely true. What we often don't talk about, though, is the sort of the earliest step in preparation, which is the better understanding of yourself. Taking some time before every negotiation. And thinking about things like your values, things that you don't want to compromise. The things that are really important to you that if you did so then there is not doing well because you've sort of left on a table the very things that are really important to you, your convictions, right?

Um, and, and to create those sort of personal boundaries. And remember how is it that, you want people to remember you after this conversation, right? What's, what's most important to you beyond just an outcome that you want? I feel like because a lot of people don't talk about that in preparation, I'd love for your listeners to understand that it's actually, the very first step is a very personal step. And everything after that is so like, what I'm sure most people have learned.

What do you want to get out of the deal? What do you want the deal structure to be? And all those things are really important and there's ways to do it and do it well. I just wanted to sort of drop that in there because it's a part of the conversation that a lot of people leave behind. And I think it's fundamentally one of the most important parts.

Jason: [00:05:20] Yeah. I totally agree with that. And I, and I, um, I love that you pointed that out. You know, I've always looked at negotiating is it's in most, I, I think maybe a little bit different and maybe not all the time. But as I got later in my years, I started realizing that both parties need to win. It's not a winner or a loser, right?

I think if you go into it that way, then it's even harder to negotiate. Um, you know, like case in point. I remember when I was building my house in Colorado. If I just kept beating them up, literally they're not going to want to work with me and they're just going to watch it and just get it. Versus I want you to make money and I want to get a good deal and I want to get a good end result, you know? And, uh, do you see a lot of people look at it that way?

Mori: [00:06:09] Well, I see a lot of people who think about it and that sort of win-loss scenario, right? Because again, it's transactional for a lot of people. But, but the, I mean, that's a perfect example that you just gave because you want to incentivize your counterpart, right?

So if it's a house that you're building, um, a project that needs to be completed by a certain date. So it’s the negotiations with your employees or contractors, um, negotiations with your client. Because, you know, if, if you don't take it away to account that this is more, uh, sort of a collaboration or a partnership, then you stop thinking about the value of this particular client or business relationship in the long-term.

So I think about it from a long game, right? I think about every interaction being part of something that becomes more of a journey than just like the sprint to the end. Because, you know, people like doing business with people that they like, right? They don't pick a business, they pick people that they like.

So, you know, I think that the less we focus on the end game. That the, you know, whether you win or lose a focus more on the process, then I think there's a natural extension of this relationship. That's based on collaboration, problem-solving, um, creation of values as opposed to extracting values.

So we don't use the term winning in my class too much, because it almost gives us a sense of competition, that's not necessary. Because it's not about competition. You're really only competing with yourself, right? To maybe get the better deal than you did the last time. Or what can we do better? But to think of your, your counterpart, as competition eliminates the opportunity for you to come up with sort of innovative, um, long-term deals that’s focus on anymore our relationship.

Jason: [00:07:57] What are you… And maybe, um, I want to ask you this cause there's a lot of people this way. Um, and even with, with me, and I want to know if I'm missing out. Um, so when someone comes to me and they go, Jason, I want to join the mastermind. And, uh, and I tell them, hey, this is the investment. And they go, and then they try to negotiate with me.

And I say, the price is the price. Like if I didn't give you enough value then, you know, and then I try to tell them. And, and at the end of the day, if it's not right, it's not right. Like I never negotiate on the price. Am I missing out with that? Like…

Mori: [00:08:40] I don't think so. Um, because part of that is to understand your own value, right? And, and to know that in some ways, when people negotiate, things like that. And this is sort of, I'm going to take this somewhere I wasn't planning, but I see it a lot in people that sort of enroll in courses, athletes, whoever like these self-development self, um, sort of help type of courses.

They don't always sort of jump in with that investment. And it's so strange to me because it's an investment in yourself, right? We're quick to buy a car to buy a house, but this is sort of where you can reap the rewards of this journey for years on end, right? And so part of what you are doing with mastermind is to create an opportunity for, for people to sort of make the investment, but they reap the rewards of that investment in perpetuity, right?

So what's that worth to people? That's usually the question, right? First of all, why are you here? Right. So what was your why? And if your, why is his success evolution development, then what's that worth? And I would, I would like to think a lot, right?

So I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. I think that that part of where people go wrong is that they want to go right to the price point. They want to know somebody's budget, which I inherently disagree with. Um, or they want to list out their pricing. And the truth is that that immediately makes it a transaction.

The sort of the piece before that. There's like four steps to the negotiations process. So it was like the preparation then when we call information exchange, which is when you first get to know somebody, right. That building rapport. Understanding more about them. They get to know you better. You're building sort of affiliation or connections.

And it's during that time where you want to understand their why, right? So why are they even here in the first place? What are their long-term needs? Well beyond just the transaction, right? And you want to sort of explain to them your why, right? The reason why you do what you do and why you think you've been successful.

And so to move it away from a black and white sort of somewhat superficial, visual, transactional conversation. And it's also during that time where you talk about your value, right? Why you were so to the people listening and like their agency is, is better positioned to, um, you know, help this client than their competitors.

And, and these are what we offer, and this is why we stand by our product and, and here's some of our success stories. But you've not yet talked to anything about pricing, right? So this is this sort of long educational process. That's demanding sort of connectivity and really human connection, human connections. It brings, it brings humanity into the conversation.

So by the time you're done with this piece, when you arrive at that next stage, which is the bargaining that transaction, right? Then you're your client, your counterpart is, is far more educated at this point, right? They, there shouldn't be any surprises. Usually, if you do this well, an opening offer is not like, oh my God, how did we get there?

Because you've spent the whole time sort of educating them and vice versa. And so I would just say that, that it's important to put off the money conversation as long as possible. It's the most painful part of the process anyway, but you put that aside and then you educate and then you educate and then you answer questions. And you get them on the same page as you, and you better understand their wants and needs.

So going back to, or are you doing something wrong? I don't think so at all, because I would, I wouldn't assume that by the time somebody gets to you in that point. Where they’re wanting to sort of enroll and be a part of, they've learned so much about it. Uh, but, and so at that point, you're not taking that piece for granted. You just feel like you've done enough to, you know, sort of explain and express your value.

It is no longer your job at that point to undercut yourself, right. Because if they haven't understood what this can do for them, then it's the reeducation as opposed to the okay let me drop my pricing. Why, right? So I think that there's a lot to discussions that are far more enjoyable to end the pain of talking about pricing.

If that's what negotiations was, there was no way I'd be teaching it, right? Because it's, it's dreadful. It's, it's not fun. It's uncomfortable. Right? So you just put it off as long as you possibly can.

Jason: [00:13:22] What's the fourth step? Is that the decision?

Mori: [00:13:25] No, that's when you come basically to a deal, right? So either you come to a deal or you don't, right?

That's sort of the commitment and implementation of the contract with deal. Or if there's no deal at all, then that's really sort of that decision point. And then, you know, for a really great, um, negotiations that end up being something long-term, then that end become sort of very fluid. Because every time you go back to the table, you're thinking about how do we make this better?

How do we enhance this opportunity for one another? Let's revisit it. We're both in a better position now. And so if the first three steps go rally well, now that end is no longer the sort of as hard end. It's sort of this very fluid ever evolving opportunity.

Online Training for Digital Agencies

Jason: [00:14:14] Hey there. Quick question for you. Is your agency paying a fortune for software? Do you have to stack multiple softwares together to deliver success for your clients? You know, if so there's a new platform called HighLevel that you should really check out. HighLevel is an all-in-one marketing platform for agencies that has an insane amount of features. And really replaces tools like click funnels, active campaign, Infusionsoft, Calendly, Kajabi, CallRail, and a lot more.

The best part is you can white-label, HighLevel and sell it to your clients as their own software. Opening up a new super sticky revenue stream for your agency.

Normally high-level offers a 14-day free trial. But as a member of my community, you have access to an exclusive 30-day free trial, which can you take advantage by going to gohighlevel.com/swenk.

So head over to gohighlevel.com/swenk to save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year on software costs.

Love it. Um, let's switch gears a little bit and let's talk about… Let's say you're in, you're in bed with this person and you really can't get out of it. And you need to try to go, well, it needs to be this way because, you know, hey, you're paying us for, to being the expert, but they want to do it their way.

How can both parties win or like, and these guys are stuck. You can't just, sometimes you can't fire them. Like it could be, it could… Well, let, let's, let's use it as this example. Cause I think, let me, let me switch this. You have a business partner, right? In your agency and you guys are not seeing eye-to-eye anymore because the agency has grown at a different pace.

What steps would you take? And let's say their lives are not matching anymore. What steps would you take in order to fix that?

Mori: [00:16:23] Um, so I've never been married, but the one divorce I've had is one from my business partner. So I, I get that example really well. Um, and I think that… First of all, you have to have the courage to look at yourself and figure out why it's not working anymore, right?

Is it that you are, you know, not looking at growth and they are? Your long-term goals have changed, or you have to understand your own why first, right? And, and because these decisions are not easy. And worse yet, they're sort of like become, you know, little knicks, but you keep sort of pulling out and then now it's a scar and it's really bad and you can't get rid of it, right?

So you sort of want to just confront the situation the earlier the better. And you want to know very clearly what it is that's not doing for you anymore, right? Because if you're not happy, and I think we undervalue personal happiness and gratification, especially in business, right? There's a lot easier ways to make money than to be an entrepreneur.

So, so for the blood, sweat, tears, the work that you put in, the no vacations, the no sick days, right? What is it that you want to get out of it? And sometimes we realize that we've gotten into, out of touch with the things that we have wanted originally. Maybe even burnt out. Maybe there could be a variety of reasons, right?

Or I don't see eye-to-eye with this person anymore. And what seemed like, um, a real match just doesn't really work anymore, right? We're so going into very different directions. The point behind why people, and I include myself in that, why comes up to this head that it doesn't need to get there. Is that people A put out the conversation and they keep putting it off.

And then in that case, it comes out some other way, right? There's anger, there's animosity, there's disrespect, whatever it is. So you don't want that because, I would assume, unless your partner is a horrible person, right? They’re, they’re dishonest or whatever it is. You don't want to blow up this relationship. And you kind of want to avoid all the lawsuits and all that kind of stuff, right?

So the earlier you start having these conversations the better. You may find that they're exactly the same place and that now the negotiation becomes how to untangle this relationship? So that nobody's losing and in fact, you are now both well on your way to finding your own fulfillment and happiness, you've outgrown this.

But when people don't talk or they avoid the conversation, in the long run it builds resentment. Resentment in yourself because you didn't have the conversation and resentment of your counterpart, who you are now blaming for everything.

And I, I just, I just think that because there's such a depth of relationship involved. The worst thing you can do is actually to not have a conversation. And it doesn't have to be one conversation. Generally, it won't be. If you've been in business for a long time, you could be friends. You could be family members, you could be, I mean, there's so many other aspects to consider that this isn't like, okay, I'm going to build up the courage to go happen to one conversation.

No, it's, it's sort of a process that has to be revisited over and over again. I feel like there's a great opportunity actually in untangling these relationships in a way that could be beneficial to both parties. When it doesn't ends up that way, it's because there's A sort of ethics issues become involved. Or B that people have put off the conversation and now there's anger.

So there's less emotionality when you treat it as, you know, we've been around the block a few times. I want to go a different direction. How do…? I sense maybe you're not happy either. Can we talk about this? Maybe, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's something else, but this is sort of what I've been getting from you. So let's talk.

And I think that's, it really, really simplifies a very complicated issue. But because I've gone through it, I know that it would have been far less complicated had I had the courage to actually talk about what was bothering me a whole lot earlier than I did.

Jason: [00:20:55] Yeah. I, I've, I've found over the years I've done it sometimes good. Sometimes very bad. Um, whenever you push, I think we're just like, if I'm pushing on you, your human nature is to push back. And then it's just a constant battle. Unless you can do something like you were talking about kind of pull them along a little bit. And then there's not that friction or that angst.

Um, but what do you do if you're at a point where, hey, you're pretty tangled up. I mean, it is a ton of knots and, uh, there's not much like… Is there certain things you can do to try to untangle? Like if you've gotten, just, let's say you, you do want to work it out. But like, you've both been building up. You both hate each other right now.

Is there a way to kind of come out the other side and both people win.

Mori: [00:21:49] So you can always get an attorney, but I never think that people when they get attorneys, but it just sort of escalates everything. Especially if there's a relationship. Um, we can kind of talk about this. We call it going to the balcony, which means that sort of you know, you almost…

Jason: [00:20:55] Push one person off.

Mori: [00:21:49] Yeah exactly. No, not quite. But you do create a third person, right? You get sort of this imaginary third person. And all it means is that when we’re on the heat of debate and conversation our egos don't allow us to be curious anymore, right. We're sort of drive hard. And then when they disagree, we drive harder and then harder.

And we want to be right and we can't really hear the other person. And so you have to allow yourself to stop and be like, well, like… This is, not only is this not getting better, but what are we doing? Right. So why is it that we can no longer even have a conversation? And what they mean by going to the balcony is that you actually have to sort of lift yourself out of this conversation and become almost like a third party that's saying, okay, let's start again.

And you go back to the why's, right? Why are we here? What is it that you want? What is it that I want? Let's press reset. This is becoming only harder if we doubt. And if you can do that, then what it means is that you're now, first of all, you can hear each other, right? You're not sort of talking over each other.

But that level of curiosity can allow you to see somebody's perspective that you've been so blind to, right? You know, a lot of studies show that, that, first of all, being curious as is not an easy thing for a lot of people, right. We want to come into conversations without minds already made up.

When we know people really well, we’re even less curious, right? We're sort of filling in the blanks when they talk. I know them so well, I don't have to ask. This is what they want. Truth is people grow, people change. So if you can then change that mindset from I'm right, they're wrong. To that's not getting us anywhere.

But maybe turning it to how about we just, we engage in this discussion from the place of… What if we started from zero? What if we just better understood each other? Because in that situation that you mentioned, you're not changing somebody's mind, right?

This isn't like I'm right, so let me make you understand how right I am. It’s neither of us is frankly trying to be right. We're just trying to untangle, which requires understanding. And we're not getting there because we're too far into this from an emotionality perspective, right.

Taking breaks in those conversations is so important. Um, it doesn't always have to be done. And like I said, these conversations aren't normally addressed and fixed in like three hours, right? It's over time. It's many times. When things get heated, you take a break. Um, because if you don't, again, then I would say you need that other party, that's going to keep you sort of, um, level-headed and less emotional.

But now you've removed the very thing that made you business partners in the first place, which was your relationship.

Jason: [00:25:07] Yeah. I love that. And I, I want to point out kind of the, what you said on curiosity. I think if we do have curiosity on what that other, how that other person sees it. And kind of almost like a lot of times too, because emotion just clouds judgment. And it's very hard for me. I get very, very emotional when people come after me, um, to a point where I'm like death to you all, right?

And so, I'm talking mainly about my HOA. Maybe you get me, right. Um, but you know, if I think if you kind of step back and go, if I was going to give this advice, to my friend that was going through the same situation, what would you give? And I, and I always felt like you can kind of take emotion out of that.

And especially too, if you're curious about what's their point of view. And then look at it kind of like what you were saying is like, how can both, all parties win and we just come out. Versus…

Mori: [00:26:09] Right. It's hard, by the way. It's really, to be curious, it's not easy, right? Because we want to be right. And so to have the humility, have the confidence to say, I'm very prepared for this conversation.

I know what I want, but the humility that says, but I can't know everything. There's no way that I know every part of what's going to sort of fix this, this issue. And I don't want anybody to think like, oh, she's just saying, oh, she makes it sound so easy. It is the last thing from easy, right?

Starting at what would appear to be easy, which is just being curious because you have to take your ego out of it. I will tell you something about emotions though. I'm not that person who thinks there's no room for emotions in negotiations. We're human beings, right? Not robots and emotions inform us, right?

They can, they can tell us what's important. What's worth fighting for? What makes us unhappy should be addressed? What makes us happy should be embraced, right? Emotions go wrong when they get ahead of you. Right. And so, again, don't disconnect, just be super aware so that you know, what's happening.

And like you said, when you get angry, you can just say, hold on a minute. Okay. I just need a little break. Let's, let's just let me go walk around the block for a minute and, um, and I'll be back or it let's just move this to Friday. Cooler heads prevail. We'll come back to this. And so I think just to understand that, that you don't want to shun emotion because they inform you. You just don't want your emotions to get the best of you.

Jason: [00:27:49] I love it. Well, this has all been amazing. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience?

Mori: [00:27:58] I think that, um, and you know, I talked about my book, um, the, another reason why I decided to write a book in the midst of a million other negotiations books that are out there is that I didn't want to write something that was prescriptive. I don't want to say, do this, do this. And you're guaranteed a good outcome because that's not how things work.

And I don't want people to memorize formulas. How to say a certain thing. Um, I think that, that the, the best outcomes come when you're completely authentic. Both to yourself, as well as your presence in that conversation. And whether it's a client or a relationship, um, when, when you really have worked on showing up as the best of you, right?

Who you are and you honor that, then there's no reason to memorize how to’s, right? The only thing that you have to navigate is, first to be really prepared and that sort of one the most important things. But also all you really have to do then is first of all, show up as you want to be remembered, right?

And as you want to be treated so with kindness and dignity and respect. But also to know that in order to be really, um, true to, to your presence as well as theirs, to kind of disconnect from the outside world. Get rid of all the distractions and just be really present in this conversation.

Because you'll get emotional cues, you'll get information about your counterpart. You'll better know how to answer questions, right? So in a world that we're distracted all the time, this is even harder and yet more important. So I would say to people sort of celebrate yourself, right? Be confident in who you are and what you do.

Nobody does it better than you. Nobody knows it better than you, right. So to come in with that level of confidence. Have the humility to be competent, to be curious, engage in a way that is humane, right? Is, is, is, is empathetic and kind and open. Then, you know, I don't see anything but success at the other end of it. Because even if that one deal doesn't work out, you so enjoy process and maybe they have as well that this will be a relationship that they can go back to when they do get more money or when the economy changes.

So you leave an indelible mark on people and it could be good or it could be bad. And so your value proposition comes when it's really, really good.

Jason: [00:30:28] Awesome. Well, this has all been amazing. What's the name of the book again and where can they go to get it?

Mori: [00:30:35] Let me show you so that you can see. It's called “Bring yourself: How to Harness The Power of Connection to Negotiate Fearlessly.” Do you see that?

Jason: [00:30:42] Yup, we do.

Mori: [00:30:44] Not your ordinary negotiations book title. But yeah, it's on Amazon. It's on every online retailer. But it's, it's all about stories. It's like an autobiography, actually. So it's not academic. It's just, about human connections.

Jason: [00:30:57] Very cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Mori: [00:30:59] Thank you so much for having me.

Jason: [00:31:00] Exactly. And if you guys enjoyed this episode and you want to be surrounded by amazing agency owners who can help you navigate through emotion and make sure you're prepared and really set you on a path for scaling your agency faster, I'd love to invite all of you to go apply at the digitalagencyelite.com.

So, go there. And until next time, have a Swenk day.

Direct download: How_to_Negotiate_Successfully_and_Stop_Lowering_Your_Agency_Prices.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

1