Alex Kouts | The Art of Negotiating (Episode 326)

Alex Kouts (@akouts) explains why negotiating isn’t just about what you want.

“The person on the other side of the table is terrified of losing you, terrified of losing the negotiation and losing face to somebody else, so you can leverage that if you know it.” – Alex Kouts

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Why everybody’s price is an f-you price, according to Alex Kouts. (11:15)
  • How to emotionally prepare for awkwardness of negotiations. (23:20)
  • BATNA: what is it and why is it so important? (31:10)
  • Why women are better at negotiating than men. (32:30)
  • When to apply the silent strategy. (35:05)
  • What’s the nuclear option in negotiation and how do you know when to push the red button? (48:30).
  • And so much more…

What would you think of someone who asked for a raise at their job seven times in two years? Would you think they were nuts, or would you think they might have some suggestions you can learn from about negotiating?

If you said the latter, today’s show is for you. Alex Kouts is here to talk the art of negotiating. His background includes starting out in business development, which means he was basically a professional negotiator for his company. He shares with us a ton of practical tips on how to ask for what we want in any setting — from a job offer to buying a mattress — and what tools we have available right now to get started. Listen in for all of that and more on this edition of The Art of Charm.

(Direct Download)

More About This Show:

Alex really did ask for seven raises over the course of two years with a company he worked for. In this episode, he tells us just how he did it and gives us real-life examples we can use to do the same. You don’t necessarily have to ask for 3.5 raises this year, but you can use his suggestions to become a better negotiator the next time you want a raise, a perk, a bonus, or even to buy a new car.

Alex has worked in and navigated the wilds of Internet start-ups, including working for a company in Washington and eventually negotiating his way to working for that same company but in California. Today he calls himself an adventure technologist and he has built and scaled teams on both the East and West coasts of the country.

As he explains in this episode, he has done a tremendous amount of negotiating in his lifetime. He has negotiated everything from the price of his girlfriend’s mattress to job offers. While you can use his tips to buy your next mattress, he walks us through the step-by-step process of negotiating a job offer.

He says when you receive an offer, never accept the first one and always negotiate. This is something he looks for when hiring for any of his teams — he wants someone with good negotiating skills. So when that offer comes in, even though it might be awkward and uncomfortable for you, here’s how you respond.

First, you never present a counter offer. You thank them and be appreciative so you’re setting the emotional tone. Then ask if there is any flexibility in the base. When they come back to you (either on the phone, via email, or in person), they’ll do one of two things. Either they’ll respond by saying they think their offer is reasonable, but they’ll ask what you had in mind. Or they’ll say, “Let’s talk.”

And that’s when you counter offer. Your counter offer is going to be no more than 15% over what they offered. And there’s a certain way you’re going to handle this. You’ll say to them these words: “Based on other opportunities I’m looking at, I think I’m worth X (and X is their offer plus 15%). If you can match this, I’ll give my notice tomorrow and we’re done.”

Alex says to always be looking at other opportunities, even if you are well down the road of negotiations with a particular company. You have a fiduciary responsibility to yourself to do so no matter what. Are you well into your comfortable job? Still stay open to opportunities because, at the end of the day, your company is only loyal to maximizing its value and its shareholders’ happiness, not your individual personal freedom or happiness.

Another great suggestion he has is to never make the first offer. You want to see where the company is so you can negotiate within an expected range. If they offer you $100,000 a year, they probably have $120,000 available. So let them come to you with the first offer and then use the strategy we just discussed.

And if they want your salary expectations, don’t give them. Again, you want to find out where they are. If they ask you to give them a number, Alex has another response for you. Simply tell them: “I am looking at a number of opportunities right now; I can’t really give you a number. I’m interested to see what offer you guys have. Thank you very much.” Then let them make the offer.

There are a ton more actionable tips and techniques Alex gives us in this episode, all of which can be used in the job/career world, but also in other areas of our lives. But however and wherever you’re going to negotiate, he says the best way to get comfortable with negotiating is to simply do it. I want to thank Alex for joining us and to thank you for being here, too. Enjoy the episode and we’ll see you next time.

THANKS, ALEX!

If you enjoyed this session of the Art of Charm Podcast, let Alex know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out on Twitter:

Click here to thank Alex on Twitter!

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Jordan Harbinger - author of 924 posts on The Art of Charm

Jordan Harbinger has spent several years abroad in Europe and the developing world, including South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, and speaks several languages. He has also worked for various governments and NGOs overseas, traveled through war zones, and been kidnapped -- twice. He’ll tell you the only reason he’s still alive and kicking is because of his ability to talk his way into (and out of) just about any type of situation. Here at The Art of Charm, Jordan shares that experience, and the system borne as a result, with students and clients.

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