Top 5 Tips For Planning Your Negotiations

One of the most crucial factors that can turn your negotiation counterparty into a true partner is your negotiation skills. Every year, legions of investors and business owners make huge profits by executing complicated negotiations effectively. 

Negotiation skills are not limited to our professional lives as each one of us negotiates every day on a personal level. We negotiate with our landlords, employers, taxi drivers, and the list goes on. 

It’s most definitely a tricky task that requires a perfect blend of “listen, empathize, inspire, and influence.” If you want to become an undisputed champion of the negotiation game, negotiation skills training could be your recipe for success. 

Curious to know more? Read on.

What is Negotiation Training?

The most effective Negotiation training usually comes in the form of a negotiation skills course that teaches trainees how to use their soft skills, including:

  • Planning
  • Persuasion
  • Strategizing
  • Cooperating

It equips trainees with techniques to draw the other party into a true two-way negotiation, in which both parties will make compromises on the way to their win-win outcome. It also teaches the key communication skills necessary, for successfully negotiating, across cultural and international boundaries.

Last but not least, it will equip you with the tactics to catch, notice and crucially to create opportunities that might otherwise be lost.

Tips for Planning Your Negotiation

To lend you a hand, we’ve composed a summary of tips to improve your negotiation skills.

How much do you know about your counterparty? 

One of the most common mistakes that many negotiators make during their preparation is solely focusing on their own goals and not considering the situation of their counterparty.

The key to success during any Negotiation is largely based on the thoroughness of your understanding of the goals and priorities of the other side. You can master the skill of “how to hold them and how to fold them” by preparing yourself through deep research and analysis.

To begin, make a list of the following points.

  • The extent of influence and power the counterparty holds
  • What is their appetite for making compromises?
  • What could be the strongest sticking points for the counterparty?
  • What could make them walk away from the negotiating table?

Once you have acquired the answers to all of these major points, you can devise a strategy that will favourably leverage your assets.

What is Your Goal?

The second step towards planning your Negotiation is setting your goals in a manner which fully takes advantage of the research you have undertaken, in assessing the strengths and weaknesses, of your counterparty. 

This is the time to inject soul into your goals by preparing powerful and persuasive arguments. It requires a deep analysis of your goals so that you are absolutely clear of the essential parameters that must be met.

  • Take a start by identifying your goals.
  • Make practical strategies 
  • Set upper and lower limits.

After you’ve done these three crucial steps, now determine the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) between your party and the counterparties involved in the negotiation process. ZOPA is also referred to as a bargaining zone, and it defines the extent of compromise that is possible by the parties involved.

A positive bargaining zone occurs when the compromising terms of all the involved parties overlap. In contrast, where the demands of the involved parties vary widely this is called a negative bargaining zone.

Have You Prepared Your Concessions?  

A tactical tool which is often addressed in the most effective negotiation skills training regards a full-proof process for making and receiving “concessions.” The application of strategic concessions, combined with the right timing, can quickly turn the situation in your favour. 

It assists all the negotiation parties involved to find common ground. A skilled negotiator knows the accurate timing, exact frequency and the full impact of concessions to effectively influence the boundaries of the negotiation.

To prepare your concessions, remember the following tips:

  • Make it clear that what you’ve given up (or stopped demanding) has cost you something, and then emphasize the advantages to the other side.
  • To even things out, resist the temptation to back away from your original demands.
  • Always ensure when you have made a concession, that you ask for something of value in return from your counterparty. Otherwise your concessions run the risk of being taken for granted. Furthermore, by failing to do so you may set a dangerous precedent, creating an unstoppable appetite for more concessions which could significantly weaken your position. 

Have You Considered Creating Opportunities for Mutual Gain? 

The concept of mutual gain is a cornerstone for successfully reaching win-win agreements. It’s a critical factor that adds enormous value to the Negotiation. 

Starting with a bird’s eye view of the interests of all parties involved, there are several ways to find common ground in negotiations. Here’s how you can do it quickly:

  • Create a list outlining the significant interests of all the negotiation parties.
  • Brainstorm the possible routes available for assisting the parties to achieve their mutual interests.
  • The best way for choosing one of these ideas is to weigh up the probable packages that will most thoroughly and effectively benefit all parties during the evaluation stage.

General practice to find mutual gains involves two distinct methods.

  1. Joint research: In a joint fact-finding process, negotiators are engaged in a collaborative investigation of the core issues at hand.
  2. Use trades to create value: This involves presenting a variety of offers that are all acceptable, from your own side. This will help you find out what your counterparty truly cares about most and what possible mutual benefits can be found.

Do You Know Your BATNA (Best Alternative to A Negotiated Agreement)?

Last but not least, never forget to plan your best alternative to a Negotiation (BATNA). Your BATNA is the action you’ll take if the Negotiation fails or if you find yourself in a negative bargaining zone.

All sorts of negotiations, from simple ones like asking your manager for a raise, to more complicated ones like a merger or acquisition, may necessitate the use of BATNAs. In negotiations, BATNAs are essential to make informed decisions.

Although BATNAs aren’t necessarily obvious, here are some tips for identifying them

  • Make a list of possible actions you could take if the agreement fails.
  • Improve the more exciting ideas and turn them into viable options. 
  • Finally, tentatively choose the best option.

Final Thoughts

In short, effective negotiation skills training can help you to achieve significantly better win-win deals. It equips negotiators with the necessary tactics and level of self-awareness to refine their strategy and approach so that they are consistently able to engage with counterparties in the most efficient manner.

If you would like to learn more, why not consider our negotiation skills course in London?