As much as we want negotiations with our customers to be seamless and mutually beneficial, the reality is that not all negotiations are quite so simple. There are times when you might be faced with an extremely difficult negotiator on the other side. If this negotiator is well prepared to employ any tactics necessary to “win” the negotiation and you are not, you will be at the mercy of this manipulative negotiator. Don’t enter into tough negotiations unprepared. Consider these tips for preparing for adversarial negotiations.
Gather Information Before the Negotiation
The best negotiators come armed with information. They understand the wants, needs, and motivations of their counterpart and they use this information to their advantage. If you wait until the negotiation begins to ask questions, you are going to get limited answers and you won’t have time to alter your tactics according to their needs. Rather, ask plenty of questions ahead of time and spend some time gathering pertinent information about your counterpart.
Know What Your Counterpart Values
One must never assume they know what is important to their counterpart. When you make assumptions, you miss opportunities. Rather, ask the right questions and test the waters a little to find out what is most important to the other party. When you understand what they value most, you can work the deal around that.
Build in a Few Concessions
Concessions are a necessary part of any negotiation but even more so when you are dealing with a tough negotiator. These people want to feel like they are in control and they are getting the best deal. When you make concessions, it makes the other party feel powerful and feel like they are getting a little something extra. This strategy can really come in handy during a tough negotiation so spend some time prioritizing your concessions beforehand and build some of these concessions into your negotiation.
Remember to Listen
Oftentimes, tough negotiators just want to feel heard. Give them what they want and make it a point to listen to them. Hear their grievances, listen to their wants, and only speak when you are prepared to offer a solution. The more you listen, the less likely the conversation will get too heated.
Know Your BATNA
BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” In other words, this is your plan B. It is important to know this before walking into a tough negotiation because it means you aren’t defeated if your initial negotiation doesn’t go as planned. A strong BATNA makes you more likely to close a solid deal. It is also helpful to learn the other party’s BATNA because you might have to alter yours in order to sweeten the deal.
Determine a Walk-Away Point
Sometimes tough negotiations just can’t seem to be settled and rather than making a decision in the heat of the moment, determine your walk-away point ahead of time. If the terms exceed your expectations, you have to be prepared to walk away and preparing for this in advance will prevent you from making a deal you might later regret.