No matter what industry you are in or what position you hold, your ability to negotiate will bear a significant impact on your career. Whether you are negotiating a pay raise or working to land that big account, learning how to negotiate effectively is crucial to your success. As you are probably well aware, negotiating is not something you can take on without preparation. Charm and charisma only go so far when you’re up against a tough competitor. For this reason, it is important to take the right steps to prepare for all kinds of negotiation situations. Mastering and attaining these tenets will put you in a better position to negotiate in just about any situation.
1. Gather Background Information
Walking into a negotiation blindly can ruin your chances for a successful negotiation. It is imperative that you do adequate research so you fully understand the needs of the other party as well as their strengths and weaknesses and what is motivating them. Any statistics or knowledge that you bring to the table regarding the other party will put you in a better position and allow you to make better decisions and go for tougher asks. Simply put, the more research you can do in advance, the better.
2. Anticipate Compromise
You should expect to make concessions and you should plan what they will be in advance. A successful negotiation is about give and take so you need to prioritize your goals and decide ahead of time what you are willing to concede. You also need to remember that for everything you concede, you should ask for something in return. Preparing for a compromise ahead of time will prevent you from giving up too much once you’re under pressure.
3. Prepare a SWOT Analysis
It can be difficult to anticipate how a negotiation will go but you can better prepare yourself for anything by developing a SWOT analysis. You need to consider the opportunities and threats on both sides and what would be considered the walk-away point for each side. Understanding these things might help you land a better deal and it will also prevent you from agreeing to something you don’t really want.
4. Know Your Strategy
One of the best ways to get ready for a negotiation is to prepare a strategy ahead of time. Have a plan in place, complete with hypothetical scenarios and contingency plans if things go awry. You want to be prepared for how you will handle unforeseen obstacles and challenges. What is your walk-away point? At what point do you push harder? What will you do if your counterpart scoffs at your deal? Preparing for all of these possibilities in advance will make you more confident during the actual negotiation and will prevent you from floundering under pressure.
5. Identify Your Goals
Make a list of what goals are most important to you and what you are not willing to give up. Identifying your goals is an important step in making sure you get what you want out of the deal. This will also help you to keep the negotiation on track and keep you focused on specific objectives. If you don’t have clearly defined goals, you could end up settling for anything.
We are all familiar with the old adage, “Practice makes perfect.” While you may not end up with the perfect deal, you will end up with a better deal if you practice. Like anything else in life, the more you negotiate the better you will become at it. Practice ahead of time in a mirror with a couple of prepared responses. You can also practice with a friend, family member, or coworker. Role play a few different scenarios and practice your responses, justifications, claims, and requests. This way, when you do it for real, you will be more confident in your ability to handle a number of different situations.