Do Your Homework and Hit a Home Run During Negotiations

Negotiations are a potentially weeks-long series of discussions. To reach win-win outcomes, you need to know your counterparty's wants and needs in addition to your own. If you're willing to pull up your sleeves and do the homework, chances are good that both parties leave the table satisfied.

Fact-Finding Mission

The crucial planning phase of negotiations involves researching the interests and objectives of the other party. How much relative power do they have, and what does this deal mean to them? Do they value price, low-cost concessions, location, or some other factor? 

You and your colleagues need to fully apprise yourselves of the other party's hopes, limits, strengths, and weaknesses. You can reinforce what you learn by role-playing various negotiation scenarios. 

Arming yourself with big-picture information affords you flexibility, confidence, and the ability to rein things in if necessary. Optimal planning means you're aware of risks and opportunities and which demands and concessions are reasonable.

Present Data Effectively

When you're bargaining, point to past precedents and the company's interactions with competitors to support your requests. Compiling documents with evidence for your proposals, including media and trade reports, can sway your opposition toward mutually beneficial options. 

Present the sales contract itself with user-friendly language and a clean format. Your counterparty is likely to appreciate the clarity, and these simple tweaks can hasten the negotiation process. 

Be sure to convert from PDF to Word to make any last minute adjustments.

Be a Good Listener 

Consider what both parties have in common. Perhaps you can appeal to a shared sense of national pride or a desire to comply with the law to develop camaraderie. These points of convergence may only emerge during negotiations, so keep those ears open.

Asking the right questions is important as is listening to the answers with empathy. If the other party can see that you understand their perspective, it fosters a more productive mood and can prevent protracted negotiations.  

When you've laid the groundwork during the pre-negotiation stage and paid attention during talks, you have a better idea of what to suggest in response to a price point that refuses to budge. Perhaps a longer-term contract to extend revenue generation is feasible, or an improved warranty or bulk discount may work.

Be a Good Observer

Pay attention to body language. Look out for subtle gestures and facial expressions at key moments to gauge the counterparty's unexpressed inclinations, and use appropriate humor or shared food, such as tapas, to lower an aggressive opponent's guard.  

If you're engaging with stakeholders from abroad, get a handle on cultural differences. Leveling builds trust. It's essential to have someone on your team who's finely attuned to overseas buyers' or suppliers' language, history, and country-related negotiating style. Where you're unfamiliar with a particular organization, don't fall into the trap of stereotyping them.

Make Your Own Luck by Preparing for Successful Negotiations

In summary, hard work and research facilitate results conducive to fruitful, long-term business relationships. Thoroughly prepare for your first meeting with a strategic partner by identifying your opponent's motivations, areas for compromise, and cultural context.

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