In this post I’d like to address the most common failure of inexperienced negotiators – a lack of preparation.

To be more successful in negotiations you really do need to do your homework. When I say this, a groan goes around the class and a whole raft of excuses come flooding out such as “I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” or “I work best when I’m spontaneous”.

These are convenient rationalisations to explain why we don’t do something we know we should do. The problem is that the perceived “pain” of preparing is greater and more immediate, than the future pain of failure.

Isn’t this crazy! Think about it for a moment. What is the real cost of a failed negotiation? Well it depends on the context but it may include some or all of the following;

  • lost revenue
  • ruined relationships
  • increased costs
  • loss of personal reputation
  • loss of respect
  • decrease in self esteem

So next time to star to rationalise and put off doing your homework – take a moment to consider the consequences of this decision. How much pain are you creating for yourself?

Good, now I hope you are feeling guilty and are ready to swear that you will never, ever, ever put off doing your homework ever again – right!

So to get you started here are the questions I ask myself when I’m in negotiation preparation mode.

  1. What do I want from this negotiation , how much do I want it, and why do I want it? (What’s my prioritised shopping list?)
  2. What do I think the other part’s shopping list is (NB: This is an assumption I’ll need to check)
  3. What’s my opening position? What am I going to ask for?
  4. What’s the worst deal I’d be prepared to accept? I.e. What’s my “walk away” point?
  5. What concessions would I prepared to give in return for movement from the other side.
  6. What alternatives to negotiation do I have and which is the best one?

Now do your homework, get out there and create some fantastic happy-happy agreements.

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