How to skillfully prepare for a negotiation

A systematic negotiation preparation process requires taking time to consider the outcome you want, what the other party values, and the alternatives available to you.

Have you ever left a negotiation feeling bruised like you never had a chance from the word go? Does the path to negotiation success have to be treacherous?

By considering these steps ahead of time, you can be prepared to use your negotiation skills to your full potential:

Do your research

Before entering a negotiation, evaluate all sides and consider their goals. It can be helpful to research the person with whom you are negotiating. Understand the limitations of the negotiator. Do they have the ability to give you what you want? Sometimes the person you are negotiating with will be unable to meet your demands. Understanding these limitations can help you strategize.

Know your strategy

If your negotiation strategy isn’t clear to you, how can you expect to enjoy results that benefit your company the most? If senior management hasn’t made clear your strategy, which is sadly too often the case, make sure you ask.

Understand the client’s needs

While most people discover this during the negotiation process, you’ll be more powerful if you can plan this in advance. The more prepared you are before you walk into the negotiation, the better you’ll be able to make your decisions. Doing your homework will give you ideas on exactly what your counterpart wants and needs.

Identify Goals

Do you want to maximize the short-term value or work to establish a longer-term collaboration that grows in value over time? Is your goal to gain market share at the expense of profit? Make sure to know what you want going in, instead of settling for what you end up with.

Know your priorities

Negotiations often require each side to compromise. Determine what is most important and what you are willing to settle for in its place. Setting your priorities ahead of time can help you evaluate what you refuse to give up as well as where you’re willing to budge.

Consider the opposition

Consider the potential opposition to your negotiations. Do you think that your manager will object to a pay increase because of declining sales? Will you be denied a higher starting salary for a position because your requested rate is above the average range? Write down all the potential oppositions and then gather the information you can use to argue your case.

Know when to walk away

One of the hardest parts of negotiation can be knowing when to walk away from a deal. It is important to enter all negotiations recognizing that you may not be able to agree. Once you realize no further compromises can be made and one side is willing to accept the terms, it’s probably time to walk away.

Keep your timeline in mind

A timeline can significantly impact your position of power in the negotiation process. For example, if one or both sides are rushing to reach a decision, one or the other may give up too much and regret their actions. For example, if you’re trying to get a new job quickly, you may take a position with lower pay than you deserve, or you may compromise too much on benefits. In this case, you may find yourself unsatisfied with your decision long-term.

Preparation is critical for successful negotiations. Ensure you prepare the negotiation process and content, and select your strategy.

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