Negotiation Tips: Preparation

The motto “be prepared” might normally be associated with the Girl Guides, Scouts, and campfires, but it could just as well be adopted as a motto for a successful negotiation. Whether or not we are born negotiators, preparing ourselves for a negotiation is essential. But how do we go about preparing as simply as possible? How can we prepare if we don’t know what the other side will say, do, or want? At Target Training we tend to find it works best to divide preparation into two phases:

  1. What you do before you meet the other guy
  2. What you do when you meet the other guy

Or perhaps more elegantly, we can speak of preparation and bargaining. You may find it helpful to divide both steps into five main question areas. It may take time to work through these questions, but if you do, you are likely to find yourself in a more confident position and be prepared for any surprises.

5 Steps of preparation

1. What is your main objective?

(What do you really want to achieve?)

2. What is your alternative?

 (What options do you have if no deal is reached?)

3. What are your tradable points and their priorities?

 (In which areas can you give and take?

Which of these are most important?)

4. What are the trading limits?

 (When do you get up and leave?)

5. What if … ?

(What will the other guy say?)

5 Steps of bargaining

1. Set the scene

 (What is the framework of the negotiation?

What subjects are you going to talk about?)

2. Asking questions

 (What does the other guy want?

Why do they want it?)

3. Check comprehension

 (Are they clear what you want?

Are you clear what they want?)

4. Trading Concessions

– quid pro quo –

(What do I have that they want?

Can I exchange it for somethingthat I need?)

5. Summarize and Record

 (Are you sure that you agree on what you have agreed on?)

Why not try these steps out in preparation for your next negotiation. Tell us how it went. Would you change or add anything to the advice above?

1 reply
  1. Chad
    Chad says:

    Hi Kate,

    Good post!

    I think role-playing / rehearsing the negotiation, even very informally, can be a good idea. It always seems to bring up questions you had never thought of before and gives you the chance to test if your arguments can really stand up in a real negotiation.

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