Preparing to Negotiate: Everything You Need to Know Before the Meeting Starts

Negotiations can be stressful, particularly for those who don’t negotiate often. But despite the awkwardness, we are all faced with negotiations at some point in our lives. Many people think the best negotiators are successful because they are naturally quick-witted, but the truth is that the best negotiators are the ones who are prepared. Preparation means having all the necessary information and a detailed plan for the negotiation before it even starts. By preparing in advance, even the most inexperienced negotiators can reach a successful outcome. Here is everything you need to know before you negotiate.

Background Information

Entering into a negotiation blindly can ruin your chances for success. Whatever you are negotiating, you need to learn as much as you can about the current landscape. If you are negotiating salary, what are people in similar positions making? If it’s a sales deal, what are similar solutions going for? If it’s in regards to a particular product or service, what makes that product or service valuable? The more research you can do in advance, the better. Any knowledge or statistics you can bring up during the negotiation will make you appear more competent and will put you in a better position.

Have a Goal in Mind

What are you trying to achieve as a result of your negotiation? You need to have a purpose for the meeting and a goal will give you a foundational direction to the course of the negotiation.

Determine Your BATNA

This negotiation acronym stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. In short, it’s the best option you have if you aren’t able to get exactly what you want. It is critical that you know your BATNA or you might end up getting even less out of the deal. When deciding your BATNA, determining the worst deal you would take and know what you walk-away point is. This will prevent you from caving under pressure.

Prioritize Your Must-Haves and Your Concessions

Before you negotiate, you should always make a list of what is most important to you and what you are willing to concede. For example, you might be willing to take a lower salary but you want the flexibility to work from home. Knowing this list of priorities will help you know what to concede if needed. However, whenever you concede be sure to get something in return.

Determine Your Counterpart’s Needs

You must always remember that a negotiation is two-sided, meaning your counterpart has needs as well. You may not be able to determine exactly what they are,but research can help you find out. For example, perhaps they aren’t as worried about price but they don’t want to feel trapped with a 2-year contract. Knowing this kind of information can help you prepare a better strategy.