- Prepare in advance – understand the principles of bracketing. Plan for, and clearly know your high point, your low point and your mid point. Your midpoint should be what you are happy to be paid, your low point is your walk away, and anything upside of your midpoint you should be delighted. Think about your strategy in how you could move your first asking point greater then where it would otherwise be to help raise the midpoint.
- Try to avoid putting your price down first – no matter what. Look to get the person you are negotiating with to state their position, their thinking, their decision-making criteria. You can look to set the agenda and ideal outcomes based on principles before a number or the details of the introduction gets introduced.
- Keep your cards close to you and actively listen to the other party to help you determine your approach and negotiation tactics. To get the other person to state his or her position first assuming the status quo is fine with you and there is no pressure on you to make a move, be bold enough to say to the other side, “You approached me. The way things are, satisfies me. If you want to do this, you’ll have to make a proposal to me.”
- Hold to your position for as long as you can – see how far they will come to your point first without you budging or without you budging far. Communicate all the time that you are prepared and ready to make the deal and find something that works for everyone.
- Understand all the influencers and decision makers – you must know and work with the person authorized to make the deal. Talk to the key decision maker. Spend time in researching, listening and understanding their drivers and frame of reference.
- Discussions should always begin with a clear understanding of the win-win-win. How do they win, how do you win, how do you win together? Much research has been done to support the approach of winning for everyone is a much better outcome and brings greater results (financial & emotional) then if you have win by screwing down the other party. Negotiation is based on the foundations of inspiration and persuasion. How can you make the other party see your point of view or vision for the future?
- Negotiation is not always about money – negotiation can be based on a number of factors. Think creatively and really understand your own drivers. For instance, in salary negotiations you may be looking at any one of the following elements: Base Salary, Added Benefits, Profit Share & other short &/or long term incentives, Working environment & flexibility in hours, Additional holiday periods, Job enrichment & satisfaction based on doing more of what you love.
- Avoid being the first to double bracket or to negotiate against yourself (you would be surprised at how many people do this – make an offer, then jump in with another based on the other person’s non-response). Hold and wait until the other person makes their offer known. Hold too on your final position and get them to talk about what they are thinking and what you can do to help them. Reinforce their and the combined win in the win-win-win situation. Identify any potential barriers to bringing closure to the negotiations. Think about how you can remove them or how else they could be viewed and change your tactics accordingly.
- There may be variables in a negotiation, understand what they are and be clear (first be clear to yourself) as to what is important to you – eg timing, breakdown, flexibility etc
- Consider the power of using time as a variable – what needs to be done by when and how flexible can you or the negotiating party be around that (and what is the value to you around that variability). Gain a sense of urgency – if the other party is keen to bring closure to the negotiations you may in fact be able to use that urgency to your advantage by moving slowly and looking like you don’t care how long it takes. However look to ensure the principles of having something that works for everyone remains a priority.
- Never negotiate when you are feeling emotional. Try to keep a level head at all times. If you need a break, request time to think about the offer until you can think straight again. Talk out loud to someone else if you need some help in unraveling your emotions and to help reform the confidence and rationale in your approach and position.
- Remember to celebrate the final result of your negotiations. It is important to ensure all parties feel good about the deal that was done.
- Once concluded, spend some time reflecting – could you have done things differently for next time? Any lessons learned?
- Finally, never let the other party know you were prepared to accept less or pay more in the negotiations. They will feel bad, and you will lose any goodwill created by the win-win-win principle.
Each of us negotiates many things and many times in daily life and in business. By considering these simple strategies, you should obtain an outcome you are happy with.
For leading more complex negotiations, there are many resources available. One book that I recommend reading is “Negotiation Genius – how to overcome obstacles and achieve brilliant results at the bargaining table and beyond” by Deepak Malhotra & Max H. Bazerman, Harvard Business School 2007
What have you found works for you? Do you recommend any strategies or resources that have helped you? What tips would you offer others who want to lead successful negotiations?