The Art of Negotiation

Successfully Walking the Tightrope

Wendy Abdo and Craig Fowler
Staff Writers
PhysicianCareer.com

Salary negotiation can be the most difficult and trickiest part of the staffing process. You want to make an offer that will win over the candidate without breaking the bank. So how do you walk this tightrope without killing the deal? By applying some simple principles used by seasoned recruitment professionals as follows:

Silence is Golden

Physicians should listen more than they speak. In negotiations, the first person who speaks is the first person who loses. Oftentimes, employers will talk themselves out of an objection without the physician saying anything. Silence is a powerful tool.

Uncover Fundamental Objections

Keep it simple and don’t play games. Don’t make a big deal out of small issues. Many smaller issues expressed by candidates mask underlying concerns that are really at the heart of the problem. A helpful way to reveal these core concerns is to ask them what their objections are and actively listen. Don’t try to address each individual objection as it comes up. Listen to all of their concerns first.

For example, keep asking them, “what else” until they say, “that’s about it.” Then say, “which of these concerns will stop this deal from coming together?” By doing this, you directly acknowledge all the issues but also show that you’re not going to address every one but only the important ones. This technique will enable you to know exactly what problems you should tackle first. Always remember the first stated objection is often not the real deal killer. Uncover the actual reasons and address them promptly. Don’t ask each request one at a time, bundle them.

Keep it Simple

Be careful! Negotiations can breed mistrust. You don’t want the relationship to get off on the wrong foot. One factor triggering mistrust is complex compensation structures. The more simplistic you can make your requests, the better your chances are of securing the offer.

Face-to-Face Finalization

If only one or two problems prevent you from finalizing the agreement, it may be wise to go out to dinner to discuss and resolve these last few issues. Most negotiations are handled remotely and impersonally through telephone, fax, or e/mail. A face-to-face meeting instills trust and can help catalyze things. Best of all, issues are addressed directly and are frequently resolved on the spot.

Using Professionals

By choosing to use the services of a physician recruitment firm, you’ll get an added bonus. Recruiters have extensive experience working with candidates and clients and have successfully resolved many deal breakers. These recruiters act as go-betweens and will assist you throughout the process. In addition, recruiters have an excellent understanding of how competitive your compensation plan should be for your particular location and opportunity.

Negotiation is a fine art. By applying these principles, you can win over the client while building trust and mutual respect that will benefit future relationships.

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