Steps for Tough Negotiation Preparation

Has there ever been a time when you left a negotiation feeling completely defeated? Even great negotiators are going to meet their match from time to time, and if not properly prepared, will find themselves feeling battered and bruised from a tough negotiation. The fact is, your charm and wit will only take you so far when you’re up against a tough negotiator. Therefore, it’s important to practice ahead of time and come to these tough negotiations fully prepared to tackle your counterpart head-on. 

Gather Information Ahead of Time

The goal of any negotiation is to find a win-win solution for both parties. You can only do this by gaining a clear understanding of the other parties’ needs and what is motivating them. This means you need to do some homework ahead of time and gather as much information as possible. If you wait until the negotiation to ask questions, you risk getting intentionally limited answers. People often withhold information during a negotiation to avoid looking weak or desperate. Therefore, it’s up to you to ask these important questions ahead of time in a non-threatening atmosphere. 

Know What the Other Party Values

As stated before, you need to gather pertinent information about your counterpart. It is absolutely critical to find out what the other party values so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. You can’t assume you know what their priorities are because they may have changed since the last meeting. Ask the right questions and be prepared to make an offer they can’t refuse. 

Know What Matters Most to You

While it’s important to gather information about your counterpart, you don’t want to lose sight of your own goals. Prior to the negotiation, do some research and find out what is most important to you and your organization. When you know what the terms need to be, you will be in a better position to make a move and find a solution that meets your needs. 

Plan for Concessions

You should come to any negotiation prepared to make a few concessions. However, you need to prepare for these concessions ahead of time. Make a list of a few concessions you are willing to make and what you would expect in return. Then, prioritize these concessions so you know where to build them into your negotiation plan. Start with those things that are least important to you and look for ways to make these things appear more valuable to your counterpart. 

Know How to Manage Urgency

Time pressure can be your worst enemy in a negotiation because it can lead you to make overly generous concessions just to close the deal. Your counterpart knows this and might be prepared to use this urgency strategy against you. Be prepared to manage time pressure by attaching terms to the deadline, such as a percentage increase. This keeps you from caving under the pressure. 

Determine Your Walk-Away Point

Plan ahead and have a clear idea of what your limits are so you aren’t forced to make this decision in the heat of the moment. Set parameters ahead of time and stick to them so you know exactly when to end the negotiation if you need to. Every negotiator needs to have a walk-away point in mind because there are times when an agreement simply cannot be reached.