There are ten steps that can be followed to simplify and organize the planning approach for a negotiations process.
Following these ten steps will increase your efficiency and effectiveness in negotiations:
Step 1. Never Forget Your True Objective – To Maximize Your Own Gain:
Remember ME comes before WE, but you need them to get there. Only you decide if you move, how much and in what way.
Step 2. Prepare or Don’t Play:
Learn as much as you can about the other party, including personal information, and keep a clearing house of notes for the future.
Learn about the context in which the other party functions. Create viable alternatives.
Know your value to them and how to reduce their perception of the value they bring you. Create a living, dynamic map to guide you.
Plan your bidding and counter bidding strategy. Practice and role play.
Step 3. Don’t Sympathize With the Other Side, Empathize:
Put yourself in their shoes and inside their head. Consider how you would respond to what you are saying and what would motivate you to say what they are saying.
But don’t lose sight of the prize – ME comes before WE.
Step 4. Teach The Other Side To Empathize with You:
Use the language of the other party and what they have already said – put it in their terms. Emphasize that “I’m just like you.”
Step 5. Manage yourself:
Take a hard, honest look at yourself and develop strategies to use your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Be trustworthy, but verify what you’re told.
Believe what you say and say what you mean. Play by whatever rules you ask them to play by.
Step 6. Manage The Other Party:
Make sure that you make the deal worth their while, while making them play by their own rules. Get guarantees, not promises – rebates, not volume discounts.
Use the power of principled persuasion, based on reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, consensus and making friends to influence people.
Step 7. Exchange Information Before You Exchange Value:
Don’t sell any deal until you know what can and should be sold. Listen with your ears instead of your mouth, and don’t interrupt. Also listen with your body and your mind. Challenge your assumptions and take note to see what’s missing.
After you listen, play Sherlock. Prepare to respond to questions that you do not want to answer. Prepare to say no and explain why.
Provide solutions, not just problems. Remember that how you say something can have more impact that what you say.
Step 8. Time is On Your Side:
Share your time deadlines, but don’t share your time costs.
Remember the importance of momentum – feed a conversation, starve an impasse.
Use a time-out when needed to think, get them to move or reduce emotion.
Step 9. Consider Implications For the Future:
Consider what precedent this deal will set and how it will impact the future profitability of deals.
Know what happens if the other side doesn’t follow through?
Step 10. Refine and Learn:
Unfortunately, there’s no “silver bullet” for success in negotiations, and while these steps and details provide a framework which can be leveraged in real world situations, practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. But it can help.
I recommend learning, practicing and refining these steps by participating in practice negotiations or by additional opportunities to gain exposure to negotiation best practices and theory. Many valuable online and offline opportunities to learn and utilize negotiation skills exist, such as my Master Negotiations Executive Education program at SMU Cox School of Business.
Following these steps is one negotiation that all sides should agree on without compromise. After all, they’re a win-win.
About the Author: Robin Pinkley, PhD is the creator of the gain-gain approach to profitable negotiation and founder of the M2M Center for Profitable Negotiation. At SMU Cox School of Business she is a professor of Management and Organizations and also teaches frequently for SMU Cox Executive Education. Before coming to SMU, Pinkley served as visiting professor of organizational behavior at the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.