What to Do Before You Enter a Negotiation

Whether you are in the board room, on a sales call, or in an interview, negotiating is going to be a regular part of any professional career. You might be negotiating your salary and benefits or dealing with a client and trying to negotiate an important deal. Either way, your ability to negotiate will have a significant impact on your career and is crucial to your long-term success. No matter what you are negotiating, there are certain things you should always do prior to beginning any negotiations. These are critical must-do’s that will put you in a good position to negotiate just about anything.

Gather Background Information
Walking into a negotiation blindly can ruin your chances for a successful negotiation. You should enter into any negotiation with as much knowledge as possible. For example, if you are negotiating a higher salary you should be privy to what other people in similar positions make. You should also have evidence of your achievements to show during the salary negotiation. If you are negotiating with a client, you should have a good understanding of what their needs are and how you plan to meet them. If you are negotiating a product, you should have an understanding of what makes certain products more valuable than others. Always come prepared with statistics and information to present during your negotiation. Any background
information you have will put you in a better position to negotiate successfully.

Prepare a Plan
You need to prepare a plan in advance based on hypothetical scenarios. What are you going to do if your boss refuses a raise? What will you say if your counterpart remains firm on their price? What if your negotiator turns you away? Preparing for all of these possibilities in advance will help you to be prepared for any response. You will be more confident knowing that you have a contingency plan and you will be less likely to be caught off guard and pushed into making impulsive decisions. You can’t always prepare for everything, but knowing how you will react to potential situations will give you a better understanding of how to handle challenges that might come your way.

Decide on a Goal
Before walking into a negotiation, you need to have some idea of what you want in the end result. What is your bottom line? What number are you trying to get to? For example, if you are negotiating salary and your goal is to get a 7% raise, you should probably go in asking for 10% and negotiate down to 7%. Having a goal in mind will give you some direction as to how you should negotiate.

Nothing is more important when preparing for a negotiation than practice. If you are preparing for a negotiation at work, practice with a friend or coworker with some prepared responses or justifications for your claims. The more you practice the more confident you will be when it comes time to do it for real. It will help you to appear more natural and increase your chances for a successful negotiation.