The True Value of Negotiation Preparation

More than ever in this fast-moving world, it’s critical that we stay focused on ensuring our negotiation strategies are developed systematically in a disciplined, step-by-step manner. This is definitely not the area to think you can ‘save’ time and money.

The evidence is quite clear. Failing to prepare systematically in the pre-negotiation time commonly ends up with you spending at least three times more time and money in the post-negotiation time ‘fighting the fires’ lit by poor preparation.

Poor Pre-Negotiation Preparation Triples Post-Negotiation Effort

When I meet someone sitting next to me on a plane they often enquire, “And what do you do?” These days I answer “Well, I used to be a negotiation consultant”. “Oh dear”, they say with a tinge of sadness, “Are you retired?. “No” I firmly reply. Their next question, “So,what do you do now?”.

I respond, “Well, mostly now I’m a re-negotiation consultant”.

Take a Deep Breath and Do Your Serious Prep!

We need to re-negotiate our way forward in our ever changing financial and economic environments. Whatever path we take, we must evaluate our options carefully and choose wisely.

And as we all know, the key to success lies in careful and disciplined, systematic, step-by-step preparation before entering into formal negotiation.

It does not lie in rushing into quick decisions, the results of which are being reported daily in the press,requiring even more expensive re-negotiation.

Tips for Systematic Preparation

Preparation for negotiation requires the development of three sets of strategy. And it’s very important that this is done from the perspectives of both sides.

Step One: Prepare the Content Strategy

Prepare systematically for dealing strategically with WHAT you are negotiating about, the negotiation substance. This includes being very disciplined about:

  • Understanding the subject matter, negotiation context, history, parties, relationships, commitment, common purpose
  • Establishing objectives, developing negotiation ranges, reviewing alternatives
  • Testing assumptions, researching facts
  • Defining issues, identifying options
  • Deciding positions, planning concessions

Step Two: Prepare the Process Strategy

Prepare systematically for dealing strategically with HOW you will manage the negotiation process. To avoid sub-optimal outcomes resulting in post-negotiation ‘fire-fighting’, this includes being very clear about:

  • Understanding the unstated drivers and hidden agendas motivating the other party’s decision-making
  • Choosing your negotiation behavior, being flexible
  • Controlling the emotional environment, time, place, questions to ask, answers to give, careful listening, body language
  • Assessing power, identifying and using tactics and counter-tactics
  • Preparing how to break deadlocks and how to make concessions
  • Determining how to sequence the negotiation through phases, and
  • Most importantly, rehearsing options with constructive critiquing

Step Three: Prepare the Mindset of the Other Side

Prepare systematically for early conditioning of the key players’ mindsets before entering formal negotiation. This requires:

  • Undertaking a detailed stakeholder analysis and map
  • Establishing the best mode for pre-negotiation influencing
  • Developing a contact register: contact names, objectives, frequency, who will be responsible
  • Deciding time and place
  • Agreeing a regular feedback process

And remember, in the hands of a skillful negotiator, how you manage the Process will defeat the other party’s Content

To discuss this article in more depth and explore developing your negotiation capabilities, please contact us via email or call +612 9299 9688.

ENS Team
ENS Team

Part of the EdventureCo Group, a Certified B Corporate