3 Steps that Boost Your Bottom Line

There is an art to negotiation, whether you want a promotion, a raise, or a deal on a new car. And while the Rolling Stones may sing that "you can’t always get what you want," with the right steps, you can increase the odds of things going your way. Simply break down the process into three steps: Prepare, position and propose. In this article, we'll take a look at how these three simple steps can help you negotiate a promotion, a better deal on a car, and a lower interest rate on your credit card.

Get a Promotion

Prepare If you’re happy where you work but would like to move up the corporate ladder some day, prepare for the future by learning your employer’s policies. Do they encourage inside applicants or would your manager be upset by the prospect of you moving within the company?

Once you know your employer’s policy, it’s time to gather proof of your achievements. This is how you prepare your case. Start by listing all your accomplishments at work over the past year, making sure to detail the results you’ve achieved, such as the amount of money you’ve saved your department or the value of new contracts you’ve signed. The goal is to show that you’re worthy of the promotion.

Position Next, position yourself in the most favorable light by highlighting the achievements that would be the most valuable to your boss. Communicate these achievements using the type of language and style that your boss uses—by mirroring his or her communication style, you are showing that you are in the same league as your "higher-ups" and worthy of the new position.

Propose Finally, prepare a formal proposal and present it to your boss in a meeting that you set up yourself. Book at least one hour of time to discuss the new role and how you would be a good fit. Don’t expect your boss to take your application seriously if you only casually mention your desire for the promotion—have your facts, rationale and reasons down on paper before the meeting and don’t expect to make the application off the cuff. The more prepared you are, the more seriously your application will be regarded.

Consider sending a brief email to your boss before the meeting that highlights your key accomplishments. Then, at the meeting, thank your boss for taking the time to get together. Share with them why you think you deserve the promotion, referring to your achievements in the conversation. Finally, explain how this promotion will enable you to be even more valuable to the company.

Bonus! This technique will also work if you’re asking for a raise or applying for a position that you’re not completely qualified for. By preparing, positioning and proposing ahead of time, you have clear reasons laid out that justify why you deserve the extra money or why you are the best candidate for the job.

Get a Deal on a New Car

Prepare When you're ready to buy a new vehicle, prepare yourself before you visit a car dealership by making a list of all the features you want the new car to have. Go online and find competitor’s prices for similar vehicles and research interest rates and financing options and know how much you’re willing to pay for the right car.

Position When your research is complete, it’s time to position yourself as a knowledgeable consumer. Tell the salesperson what you want to spend and don’t discuss monthly payments—be firm and insist on only discussing the selling price of the vehicle—the bottom line, so to speak. If the salesperson starts asking questions about your finances and budget, make it very clear that you’re only there to discuss the selling price.

Propose If the price is right, it’s time to make a proposal and to tell him you’re ready to make an offer. Don’t appear desperate to buy the car, simply state the price you’re willing to pay and then be quiet. The salesperson will probably insist that the price to too low and he will do everything he can to get you to raise your bid. Be firm and be prepared to walk away if he won’t sell the car to you for the price you want—resist the urge to raise your own bid, no matter how uncomfortable the situation might make you.

The salesman will probably step away for a few minutes to speak to their manager at this point. When he returns, he may present a counteroffer. Don’t say anything at first—whoever speaks first after an offer is tabled is in the weaker negotiating position. If the counteroffer seems reasonable but not ideal, raise your offer in small increments of $50 to $100 at a time until you reach an agreement.

If the counteroffer is nowhere near what you’re willing to pay, thank them politely and leave on good terms. Then, in a day or two, call the salesperson and tell them you’re giving them one more chance to win your business. You may find them surprisingly easy to work with now.

Bonus! This technique will work when negotiating the price on many other products or services, too, especially when it comes to buying used. If you prepare, position, and propose with a salesperson, you will be more confident during the negotiation and will be less likely to fall victim to a bad deal.

Get a Lower Interest Rate

Prepare Find out which cards offer lower rates than your current card, whether or not they charge an annual fee, and what other bonuses they offer, such as airline miles, rewards or discounts. Once you’ve got cold, hard facts pick up the phone and call your credit card company.

Position When you’re speaking to the customer service representative, position yourself as a long-time customer and play up your loyalty. Cite your impeccable payment history, too. If you have other accounts with this company you may want to mention these as well, especially if you have valuable investments, such as retirement savings with the same bank. A financial institution would hate to see you pull your entire portfolio over a dispute about credit card interest rates.

Propose Make your proposal in a calm and professional way, letting them know that another company is offering you a lower rate of interest. Clarify that you don’t really want to leave them but the other rate is too good to pass up. Could they match it? Chances are, they will.

Bonus! You can use this technique to ask for other incentives from the credit card company, such as reward points, low or no interest on an upcoming balance transfer and decreased fees. You can also, very easily, get an increase in your credit line by applying the same logic—but be careful not to increase your limit if you have trouble paying off your cards as it is. Also, use these steps to increase the amount of interest you earn on things like your savings account, too.

As you can see, using the 3Ps (Prepare, Position and Propose) goes a long way to getting what you want in life, whether you're negotiating about money or more help around the house. Try this strategy the next time you want something and see what happens. You don’t have to take no for an answer if you prepare, position and propose!