Winning at Negotiations

There are many views and definitions of what negotiating is, for example:

“Negotiating is the process of getting the best terms once the other side starts to act on their interest.” - On Negotiating by Mark H. McCormack.

“Negotiating is... a means of achieving one's goals in every relationship regardless of the circumstances.” - The Art of Negotiating by Gerard I. Nierenberg.

Negotiation is a field of knowledge and endeavour that focuses on gaining the favour of people from whom we want things.” - You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen

Negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others.” - Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher & William Ury.

Negotiation is a human interaction that requires two or more parties to reach an agreement, if only it were so easy in practice. Negotiations can get heated as we try to win new business, prevent a client from moving to a competitor or try to get a better deal from our supplier.

Negotiation can be seen as a process starting with pre-negotiation preparation, moving into the negotiation itself, reaching agreement and then enforcing that agreement or managing the relationship afterwards. Knowing this process and how to move through it can give you the upper hand in negotiations. Here are a number of tips for your next negotiation:

Preparation: Identify your objective; what do you want to get from this deal. Be specific and use figures or targets where possible. Write these down and refer back to them during difficult negotiations; this will help you mentally anchor back to what you want.

Be able to walk away: Have a plan B or a fall back option in case the negotiation collapses. This is called a BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). Develop your BATNA before the negotiation; it removes your pressure to sign a deal that may be bad or loss making for you.

Use silence: Silence can be a great negotiation tactic than can make you counter party nervous or offer them the time to come back with a better offer. Silence can be an indicator of you own self-control and demonstrate that you are thinking, even when you are not, it also allows you time to digest information and come up with a rational & non-reactive response.

Uncover their real needs: A deal will only be reached if it is mutually beneficial to both sides. It is your job to find out what the other sides needs and give it to them in exchange for what you want. Be careful as your counterparty may say they need one thing but really need another. This is a common occurrence in many human interactions and can be an obstacle to agreement. For example, a buyer may say that they want you to reduce your selling price but what they may really need (known or partly know to them) could be for you to provide extra merchandising or marketing supports to them that will drive volume sales for both you and them.

Expand the pie: Negotiation can be a bargaining process where price is the only issue but in cases where you have an on-going relationship with a supplier or buyer it is more than that. Find opportunities to build on top of the deal. For example, a seller may concede to a price reduction in exchange for getting a purchase order on a new product they are bringing to market.

By Robert Farrell.

For more information contact me via Linkedin



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