When you have an important negotiation coming up, you should never plan to just “wing it.” A successful negotiator takes time to think through the process, gather important information, and consider possible alternatives. The art of negotiation is more complicated than one might think and requires a delicate balance between asking for too much or too little. This involves plenty of planning and preparation. If you want the best chances of success, consider these steps to help you prepare for your negotiation.
Prioritize Your Goals
The goal in any negotiation is to achieve the objectives you want. You also want to try and walk away with the best deal possible, while maintaining a strong relationship with the other party. All that said, getting what you want is still top of your list. Therefore, start by making a list of your priorities and rank them in order of importance.
Once you know exactly what your priorities are, you need to gather as much information as you can about the goals and interests of your counterpart. Many negotiations come to a halt because one side isn’t willing to budge and does not consider the other party’s needs. Successful negotiations are all about give and take. Find out what is motivating the other party, and adjust your negotiation plan accordingly so you can reach a fair agreement that is suitable for both sides.
Make a List of Concessions
Concessions are an integral part of negotiations so you need to prepare for concessions beforehand. The last thing you want is to be pressured to make concessions at the table. Prepare a list of concessions you would be willing to make beforehand, and also jot down what you would like to have in return.
Develop a BATNA
You also need to plan for the unexpected. Negotiations do not always go exactly as you want, so you need to have an alternative option prepared beforehand. A BATNA is a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement and it is one of the most important tools you can have. It could save the negotiation and be what keeps things moving forward and it can also prevent you from getting a lousy deal. You always need to have an alternative plan prepared.
Set an Agenda
Create an agenda for your negotiation so you know exactly how the discussion will go. This helps give you a guide, which can be helpful if you get nervous. It will also help you keep the discussion on track. Set the agenda early and email a copy before the meeting. If you don’t do this, the other party will and you could lose your chance to take control of the negotiation.