• Never go into a negotiation unprepared... well, that's obvious, but what exactly should you do ?
• Identify your personal strengths and weaknesses. For example, If you know you are not very good at sticking to a price once you’ve been challenged, if you fail to prepare in that area and someone pushes, you will simply give way.
• The sort of preparation you do is put the price up. You don't try to get better at holding the price because that's not you, you don't work that way.
• Think ahead. During the preparation phase, focus on your primary objective - and the other party's. Decide what you believe is fair and plan to be flexible.
• List the items you are prepared to concede and what you can reasonably expect the other party to concede. Anticipate what the stumbling blocks in your argument will be for them and have an alternative strategy or plan to deal with them.
• Win or lose: Decide if you want the negotiation to be combative ('win or lose'), or 'win-win', where the parties attempt to reconcile their positions so that the end result is an agreement under which both will benefit.
The latter is preferable, an agreement reached under a win-win approach is likely to remain stable. If one party feels they have been 'hard done by', the agreement may be unstable and the 'loser' may seek ways to get back at the 'winner’.
• Become an ‘Information Junky’. Know the state of the market. Be aware of any current or imminent discounts and special offers.
If the subject of negotiation is not a purchase but involves, perhaps, extension of a deadline, acquiring more resources, or even a pay rise, gathering background information is still necessary.
• To give credibility to your arguments, back up assertions with published information. If you can bring an expert along, they will add weight to your position, especially if they are seen as neutral.
Whatever your strengths, don't enter a negotiation just hoping for the best - prepare properly to win-win. Share your tips with us on how you deal with negotiations.