Negotiation is a cornerstone of success in business.
Let’s start with the understanding that business is simply buying and selling. In order to successfully buy low and sell high to generate a profit, you need to be a good negotiator.
If you have a small business, negotiation skill is what enables you to get the pricing you need to compete with larger companies that have considerable purchasing power. Negotiation is what gets you in the game and helps to even the odds.
There are 2 things you have to do before walking into a negotiation:
1. Define The Negotiation
Define the difference. Each side has different goals. List the goals for both sides and attach motivations to them. When you understand the motivation behind something, you can gauge how important it really is.
Define the new ideal. The ideal outcome for both parties exists. If you can find it, you can build a strategy to move towards it. Keep it dynamic. Unforseen things are going to cause it to evolve.
Define your options. List the other options for all parties in the event negotiations fail. Options provide the leverage to move negotiation forward by defining how exclusion from the new ideal affects everybody, and how the new ideal is the best option.
Options also prevent a forced solution. If the negotiations fail, you can channel your differences in new directions, maintain the relationships, and take another path. Without options, there is no negotiation.
2. Prepare For The Negotiation
Secure the relationships. The conflict of negotiation will test them. Relationships are the connections built over time. They’re credibility. Spend time initiating and securing them. And take time out to sustain them throughout the negotiation.
Build authoritive knowledge. Create solutions to the problems you expect to run into. Understand the technical details and the logistics. Know what has worked before and what won’t work. And know the costs and the savings for everyone involved.
Take possession of the arena. Wherever it is, the negotiating arena is owned by being comfortable and confident in the setting. Be well traveled, scout the territory, and have amenities accessible.
There are a lot of different negotiating styles. In a future post I’m going to talk about something I call ‘Akido Negotiation’ that outlines different strategies. But whatever style or strategies you use, being prepared is job one.
A successful negotiation is a brawl. But it’s not between enemies. Look at it like this …
When Micky Ward and Arturo Gatti stepped into the boxing ring together for the first time, it was thought that the fight would be a good candidate for ‘fight of the year’. Before it was over, they were calling it the fight of the century. These two guys beat the living hell out of each other.
They were on opposite sides but they both won because the ideal outcome was not about winning the fight. It was about giving boxing fans a show they would never forget.
Ward and Gatti became good friends. And they had two more spectacular bouts just like the first.