PREPARING TO NEGOTIATE

Things you need to know before you begin

Ever wondered how successful negotiators seem to get the best of you every time? It’s not some magical charisma or secret voodoo they perform on you. The only secret they have is they like to prepare before they enter into a negotiation. So they know what they’re after and are prepared for what you want as well.

So here are a series of questions to ask before your next negotiation. I suggest you write the answers down as this cements things into our heads.

  1. Thinking about your next negotiation, what are the interests and concerns you need addressed? What is the objective of your negotiation?
  2. In addition, try to anticipate what you believe the other party is hoping to achieve.
  3.  Next, it’s important to think about what creative alternatives exist to help you meet those concerns. For example, when buying from a supplier and trying to negotiate a better price could you purchase more stock up front, form a collective with others who buy from the supplier or help the supplier market their services to your clients.
  4. Now do some research. What is a fair and reasonable expectation for the outcome in terms of such things as; market rates, what the competition offers and so on. In other words, what’s normal? Remember to do a fair comparison; it’s no point expecting the same hourly rate a driver gets in the Pilbara mines if you’re offering your services in Tasmania.
  5. What will you do if you can’t reach an outcome? You need to consider your “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA)? Sorry about the acronym, but it is still an important factor. Can you walk away? Will legal action be necessary? Can you go offshore? It’s important to remember that a BATNA is not an idle threat – it must be something that you can and will implement should the need arise. In addition, you should anticipate the other parties BATNA.
  6. Finally spend some time documenting two things: What an ideal outcome would involve and the lowest outcome you would accept before you enact your BATNA.

Do all this and you’ll be ready for action! One last thought: A successful negotiation ensures both parties are happy to do business together in the future.

Article by Adam Le Good, Director of Fundamental Training and Development

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