Prepare for Successful Negotiations
Some people like to negotiate. Others (like myself) hate it, and I go out of my way to avoid negotiating with people who like negotiating because I don’t ever feel like I came out with a good deal. Sound like you? Read on.
As I’ve studied about successful negotiation and how to do well in negotiation even if you aren’t naturally gifted at it, I’ve found that there is actually a very simple set of guidelines, you might call it a methodology, that tends to lead you in the right direction without fail. A really good article on this is “15 Tactics for Successful Business Negotiations” (Forbes.com, Sep 16, 2016). I’ll summarize here and make it even simpler.
1. Go first and be prepared. Always make the first offer (if you can) and be prepared before negotiation opens. This means understanding which terms of the deal are the “make or break” terms, and which are important but not your focus. You want to negotiate as few terms as possible. Fewer = faster. Know where your flexibility is. If I give a little here, what would I want in return? Have a bunch of options ready to go before you even start. Know what questions you need to ask during negotiation. If a term is important to you, then you need to be asking about it.
2. Know the other party. Always try to learn what you can about the other party and their point of view. Know who the “decider” is. Here, you can only know what they’ll tell you and what you can find on your own, but especially if this is someone with whom you will do repeat business, get to know them. Their preferences, priorities, personality, and problems. The more you know, the more options you can create that can be considered. And try to know the person, if you can. As one of my law professors once told me, “There’s no such thing as a good deal with a bad person. It’ll always bite you in the end.” I think that’s very true. If I suspect that the person I am negotiating with is “ethically challenged”, willing to lie to me or misrepresent something to get a deal, I’m done. You should be too.
3. Be nice, but firm. Always be professional, courteous, and be prepared to walk away rather than try to force a deal when it isn’t in the cards. Here, you need to know something about the person you are negotiating with to some degree (see #2). But even when the other party is negotiating in good faith, you still don’t want to “over concede.” Again, be prepared. If they want you to give on something, you should know what to ask for in return. That’s what negotiation is all about.
4. Be quick about it. There’s a term of art in contract law called “time is of the essence”. It just means that prompt performance by one or both parties to a contract is required. Well, when it comes to negotiating a contract, time is always of the essence. The longer it takes to close the deal, the less likely it is to get done, or to be a good deal. You need to be able to move fast, and that means doing all of the above really well.
Intellext is an AI startup that is revolutionizing the way contracts are negotiated, accelerating time to close, and improving deal terms. Intellext’s Intelligent Negotiation Platform™ eliminates the complexities of contract redlines and stakeholder collaboration and optimizes deal terms by applying machine learning during the negotiation process.