One of the most difficult things for most people to do is negotiate. It’s not something we’re born knowing how to do. It’s a learned behavior. Often people mistake negotiation for a “winner takes all” result that is not in touch with reality. At its core negotiation is nothing more than 2 parties acknowledging their own expectations while accommodating the expectations of the other party. The end result is often a compromise with both parties giving a little to get the most advantageous outcome for themselves.
In this series, we’re going to take apart negotiation techniques and examine each facet to help you better understand how you can get the best results possible in any situation. We’ll examine what happens before negotiating, then what happens during the actual negotiation. Along the way, you will learn how to stay in control of the situation while working to reach an agreement both parties can live with.
As I said, there are two main categories of negotiation: What happens BEFORE, and what happens DURING. We’re going to first focus on the negotiation techniques to use in the BEFORE.
As with many endeavors, the actual preparation takes more work and time than the actual activity. When I prepare for a speaking engagement, my preparation takes weeks. The actual program may be 60 or 90 minutes. It’s actually the result of all the preparation. I must interview a prospective client, find out the needs of their organization, propose various programs or seminars to present to them, adjust what I feel would be suitable for the group, agree on terms for my compensation. Then I will spend perhaps a few days preparing an outline of my presentation. From there, it is transferred to a PowerPoint presentation which can take 2 or 3 days to complete. From there, I begin rehearsing. Remember, if it’s a 60 or 90-minute program, I must rehearse it from start to finish each time.
Prior to the event, I must make all my travel plans, travel to the destination, meet with the client, view the venue where I’ll be speaking, and yet again rehearse my program. Finally, I deliver the program.
Negotiating is much the same. The final deal is the product of all your effort. But there is much you must do in advance.
The preparation BEFORE is critical. So, for the next several postings, we’re going to discuss various negotiation techniques for the BEFORE. Here’s the first one:
Know your opponent. I will use this term as a simple identifier. It’s not to paint the other party as an adversary, although they may be. In reality, they are simply trying to do the same thing as you: Get the best deal.
Your opponent may have many unique features. If it’s an individual, what do you know about them? Do your research! LinkedIn, Google searches, asking someone else who may know them will yield a great deal of information. What has been their experience? Where have they worked before? Education? What are their interests, hobbies? You need to know who they are! This becomes critical in the time prior to the actual negotiation. You will use this information to build rapport, a level of trust. While you may not love each other, you should have a pleasant professional respect for your opponent.
Your opponent likely has a company. They may be the owner, or they may be an executive. You need to learn everything you can about the company. Often there are public records. Look at the company website. Learn about what they do, how long they’ve existed. Any information you gather may eventually become important in your effort.
If you are dealing with a particular department in an organization, learn how that department fits into the rest of the company.
In short, you need to know all of this about your opponent: Who they are, what they do, when they do it, how they do it, where they do it, and why they do it.
In our next article, we will take a look at YOU. There are certain things you MUST do, and things you MUST NOT do during negotiation. It takes a careful examination of yourself.