5 Things You Should Do Right Before a Big Negotiation

Content was originally published on Inc.com on February 19, 2019. 

Want to make more money? Negotiate. Want to get a better price with a vendor? Negotiate.  Want to hire that rock star new hire? Yup, you guessed it….negotiate.

Negotiating is a tactic that is used in many different situations at work with an intended purpose of coming to an agreement. It is something that is essential when trying to grow. Something that many won’t tell you is that about 90% of the bargaining happening at the negotiating table is in the preparation. This is because we have to understand the underlying interests of different stakeholders in order to find the most acceptable outcome. 

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Over the past 25 years, I have helped thousands of business owners scale and grow their companies to new heights. And the single most important skill that all of them have had to master, is the art of negotiation. Unfortunately for many small business owners, the mere thought of entering into a negotiation causes their anxiety levels to rise. And for many this fear can impede their growth significantly. However, the negotiation process is not something to be afraid of. There is much value that comes from not only reaching a deal with the other party, but also in creating your negotiation style and strategy. 

Here are the top five things that I teach all our coaching clients to do right before a big negotiation.

1. Have An End Goal In Sight.

The objective of a negotiation is reaching an agreement to get mutual gain. This seems like a no-brainer to prepare for negotiation, but you would be amazed at how many people show up at the negotiation table without a clear idea of what they really want out of the negotiation. This rookie move will cost you millions in increased overhead, lost sales or missed opportunities. So before you walk into the discussion, sit down and think about why you are even there in the first place and what you hope to achieve. This simple exercise will help soothe your nerves, and give you the confidence to go after what you want. Being able to plan ahead before you begin to negotiate is a very important step in reaching your goal.

2. Roleplay The Best Possible Outcome.

The hours leading up to a big negotiation can be really stressful as you think about the unknown. Calm your anxiety by roleplaying what the best possible outcome will look like. Will you leave the room with a three year contract? Will you get a significant price reduction on that piece of equipment you really need? Go over the best case scenario in your mind to prep for the big day. As you are practicing for every possible outcome be sure to keep in mind the other parties’ interest so you are able to identify what it is they are looking for and prepare for surprises.

3. Roleplay The Worst Possible Outcome.

On the same note, don’t forget to look at the worst possible outcome as well. Now for many who suffer from anxiety regularly, you don’t have to tell yourself to do this part. Your mind is already going through the different permutations of the negotiation and laying out the worst possible outcomes. Take a minute and let it happen. By giving the feelings validation, you can begin to analyze them objectively. What if you don’t get that discount? What if you don’t get the contract? Would you walk away? Determine what your stop point is.

4. Have a Plan B.

Another sure fire way to ease negotiation anxiety is to have a plan B lined up. Imagine how much better you would feel if you went into a vendor negotiation knowing that you had three other back ups in place should you not get what you want. Having a plan B….or C will allow you go into a negotiation confidently. It is good to research and identify alternatives before going into negotiation. By having the research done and communicating it to the other party, you can establish a more trusting relationship on both sides that will help you reach your alternative goal.

5. Breathe.

Inhale. Exhale. If you have gone through steps 1-4, you are going to be just fine. Go into the negotiation room feeling confident knowing that you have done all that you can prior to the discussions.

Having a negotiation tactic before speaking with other vendors or parties is no easy task. It takes a lot of practice to acquire the necessary skills to make a successful negotiation. Whether you are creating a sales negotiation or a salary negotiation, it is crucial to prepare ahead of time in order to get the best outcome and understand that there will be curveballs in sight.

Good luck!

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5 Things You Should Do Right Before a Big Negotiation
Article Name
5 Things You Should Do Right Before a Big Negotiation
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Does your pulse race at the thought of negotiations? You aren't alone.
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Maui Mastermind Business Coaching
Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.