Assertiveness - if you looked at the total DNA map of HR pros everywhere, it's safe to say the profile would show low to midling assertiveness as a general trait. I've always been fascinated by this, and I feel like my profile has changed dramatically over time. What I've learned is that if you're unable or unwilling to ask, you generally won't get what you're looking for.
Just say it, Sparky. Think about buying a house. For those of you who have done this, you'll know that the game goes something like this:There's a listed price, but you have to figure out what to offer. You know that your offer (unless you go in too close to the listed price) is rarely the last point of the negotiation. You're going to make an offer, and if it's reasonable, you're going to go back and forth and land somewhere in the middle. The danger is that if you don't ask by offering an aggressive first number out, you just cost yourselves $6,000.
Where in the middle? That depends on you saying a number that clearly defines your position, and not being mamby-pamby about it. This article from the WSJ underscores the importance of getting your number out there:
"If you want to come out on top, use this simple shortcut: Be first. No dancing around the issue. No hemming and hawing. Just give them a number right off the bat. In doing so, you'll set the starting point for the discussion, from which all further discussions will stem.
If you quote, say, $8,000 to complete a project, your prospective client may want to negotiate the price or other parameters of the deal, but all negotiations will start at $8,000. You may come down a bit in price, or agree to different payment or delivery terms, but if she hires you, you'll get a number close to $8,000. On the other hand, if you wait for her to tell you she expects to pay $2,000 for a project, you may be able to negotiate an extra thousand or two, but you're never going to get the $8,000 you feel you deserve.
Divergence is a huge time waster. If a prospect can't—or won't—pay a fair price, why would you spend one more second trying to land her as a client? Even if you lose the deal because your price is too high, you still come out on top because you haven't invested much time trying to win her business."
How many times last week did you negotiate even a minor deal? How many times were you unwilling to name your price or position?
Get it out there early and often - you'll win more if you do.
Do it classy, but do it.