Six Steps for Negotiation Preparation

The most commonly overlooked aspect of negotiation is preparation. We say things like, “We’re just in the negotiation stage of the deal …”

There is no more profitable expenditure of time than the time spent preparing to negotiate. Here’s your checklist:

1. Know what you want and don’t want …

Most of us have a general idea of what we want or want to avoid in a deal. Unfortunately, general objectives tend to render general results … leading to second guessing and dissatisfaction.

Instead, write a paragraph describing in detail what you want and don’t want from the transaction, then, edit this description furiously until it is laser focused and precise.

When we are crystal clear on our objective(s) and rationale(s) for their acquisition, we are most likely to achieve desired results.

2. Know what your counterpart wants and doesn’t want …

Now do the same for your counterpart. Write the description of what your opposite is looking for and seeking to avoid.

This exercise tends to be a real stumper … and eventually a real eye-opener. Knowing our counterpart’s goals, objectives, and sought after results helps us see commonalities that lead to creative solutions.

3. Know what concessions you are willing to give …

What must you absolutely achieve to consummate a successful bargain?

What terms, conditions, extras could you live without? Every great negotiator knows there must be give and take on both sides for agreements that make sense.

4. Know your alternatives …

Remember when you bought your first car? Mine was a 1956 T-Bird. The ,guy I bought mine from told me, “I like you and want to sell you the car … but there’s another person coming over in 30 minutes who also wants the car.” Wow, did the dynamics of the negotiation shift on the spot. Having an alternative vendor or supplier really helps your level of confidence.

5. Know your counterpart and your subject matter …

A lot of information is available to us on personality styles, body language, and neuro-linguistic programming. Remember transactions take place between people … and people view the same facts and appeals differently. Subject matter is simple … Know it cold-there is no excuse for being ill informed … and lost credibility is rarely recovered.

6. Rehearse

You know how to get to Carnegie Hall! It’s the same road to negotiation success – Practice – Practice -Practice! Attend swap meets and flea markets … They are wonderful opportunities to sharpen your skills. Remember use it or lose it!

Most negotiators rarely, if ever, thoroughly prepare to negotiate. But this is the magic! Try this checklist before you negotiate … Your returns will improve dramatically.

John Patrick Dolan, Attorney at Law, Certified Specialist Criminal Law, CSP, CPAE is a recognized expert in the field of negotiation. He travels throughout the world presenting lively keynote speeches and in-depth training programs for business and legal professionals. Call 1-800-859-0888 for more information.


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