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How to Write a Negotiation Letter

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Negotiation letters serve many purposes. A person receiving a job offer could respond with a negotiation letter seeking a higher starting salary. Or an entrepreneur trying to acquire a business may use a negotiation letter to further discussions. Negotiation letters usually are not legally binding documents, but they do require careful care and consideration. It is often difficult to back away from terms that are spelled out in a negotiation letter, which is why many people are careful not to put their best offers in writing until the negotiations are nearing an end.

Review notes from previous discussions or correspondence, if applicable. Read the offer letter if this is about taking a job, or review notes from a face-to-face meeting about a negotiation.

Conduct research to support your position, if necessary. Network with contacts in the industry for salary information if you are writing a negotiation letter to counter a job offer. Or refer to sales data from local brokers if you are negotiating to acquire a small company.

Begin the letter by quickly getting to the point as you state your reason for writing. Tell a potential employer that you are excited about joining the team but you would like more discussion about salary. Or use the first paragraph to formally announce your interest in acquiring a business following preliminary conversations.

Offer specific terms in the negotiation letter if you are responding to a firm proposal, such as a job offer, and the negotiations are nearing an end. Counter for a job offer by suggesting a higher starting salary or other benefits, and support your counteroffer by citing your research. Or, if this is the first negotiation letter for buying a business, offer an initial purchase price using a range, such as $100,000 to $250,000 for a grocery store. Note that you are willing to offer a more specific offer after receiving an appraisal of the fair market value for the business.

End the letter on an upbeat, positive tone while indicating that you are willing to show flexibility and that you are open to more discussions.

Sign your name with the proper valediction or closing, such as "Sincerely yours," or "Yours truly."

  • "The Business Letter Handbook"; Michael Muckian, et al.; 1996

Robert Lee has been an entrepreneur and writer with a background in starting small businesses since 1974. He has written for various websites and for several daily and community newspapers on a wide variety of topics, including business, the Internet economy and more. He studied English in college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Governor's State University.