Business Negotiation June 05, 2013

The Quick Planning Kit

Even when the stakes are high, people go into negotiation playing it by ear.   Instead of doing the most rudimentary planning, they just hope for the best...

Even when the stakes are high, people go into negotiation playing it by ear.  Instead of doing the most rudimentary planning, they just hope for the best.  The trouble is that the “best” does not happen unless you work and prepare for it. Most people know that preparation is important, but they still don’t do it.  Can something be done to help them plan better?  I believe so. It’s easy to advise someone going into an important negotiation to do their homework before the talks start.  But the trouble with “Do your homework” as a guide to action is that it begs the harder question: “What’s the assignment. If we know what is to be done, we have a better chance of doing it well. In the give and take of bargaining there are occasions when you don’t have time to plan.  It shouldn’t be that way, but it is.  Here are thirteen tips that will help when time is short.

  1. Before talks begin, write down your wants in order of priority.  Distinguish between “must have” and “would like to have” wants.

  2. Figure out what your opening offer and target will be on each issue to be discussed.

  3. Determine what you will say after the other party says “no” to your opening offer.  Remember, they are sure to say “no.”

  4. Make a list of things you will ask for in return if you have to make concessions later.

  5. Choose the best time and place to meet.

  6. Write down a few ways to make a win-win deal.

  7. Build in a “lack of authority” and a “time to think” defense.  This will help avoid being pushed into a premature “yes” decision.

  8. Bring an associate who can help you listen better, ask good questions and say the right things.

  9. Ask yourself, “What are some limits to their power?”

  10. How will you support your position? What kind of backup should you bring along that will help persuade the other party to move in your direction?

  11. Ask yourself, “What do they want that’s under the ‘iceberg’?” – things they want but can’t ask for, such as looking competent to other or having less work to do.

  12. What is our second choice if these talks break down?

  13. Is there something you should ask for now that you’ll wish you had asked for after the deal is closed? Examples would be training, return privileges, a larger order, or free delivery.

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