Rather than taking a hardball stance when it comes to negotiation, try approaching your next deal as a shared search for solutions. Ross Sapir, founder of New York City-based Roadway Moving, meets frequently with his rivals--whom he often ends up negotiating with--and offers them industry advice. “We’re competitors, but we’re friends,” he says.
When one of Sapir’s rivals gets a job they can’t handle, like a long-distance or international deal for which they lack capacity, Sapir offers to take the job and give the rival a 10 to 15 percent rebate. If the rival is hesitant, Sapir shows them the big picture. “They keep their relationship with their customer, and I get more business,” says Sapir. “It’s a win-win.” Try developing relationships with your competition--it could actually increase your business.