Going into a negotiation unprepared is like walking through a blizzard in flip-flops — it’s uncomfortable, miserable, and quite frankly, it will stop you from getting where you want to be.
Many negotiators think as long as they have their arguments and counterarguments ready, then they’re ready to go.
Successful negotiations require more preparation than that.
The Maker Group can show you how to prepare for a negotiation using our Maker Framework 8-Step Process.
The Value of Negotiation Planning
We’ve all heard the saying, “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. This has never been more true than it is in negotiations.
Most rookie negotiators — and even some veteran negotiators — may be surprised to learn that the majority of the negotiation outcome is achieved before you ever set foot in a boardroom.
While the preparation steps may not seem nearly as thrilling as the negotiation itself, it is critical to success.
Let’s face it, everyone wants to get the best out of the deal.
When you know …
- Who has what you need
- Who wants what you have; and
- What the other parties are willing to give up
… you’re already on your way to a winning negotiation.
It’s Not All About The Numbers – Negotiation Planning Starts With Having a People-Centric Approach
When preparing for a negotiation, start with the people, then the problems, and finally, the process.
- The people — Every negotiation involves two or more people with completely different expectations of the outcome. Taking the time to think about the person behind those expectations, and not just the numbers on paper, is what will ultimately lead to a successful negotiation for all sides. When you build a trusting dynamic between the negotiators, you give yourself the ability to guide the negotiation in the direction you want.
- The problem — Each individual or organization is motivated by certain wants and needs. Learning the other party’s key motivators allows you to devise a solution that matches their wants and needs with your wants and needs.
- The process — A good negotiator will outline the purpose and objectives of a meeting and identify the process and methods needed to meet those objectives.
Remember, you’re dealing with a person who has feelings, wants, and needs. Operating in a way that satisfies the full spectrum of human emotions, not just the analytics, is the first step in successfully preparing for a negotiation.
Use The Maker Group’s 8-Step Framework To Prepare for and Lead Negotiations
At The Maker Group, we aim to deliver value and drive profitability with our customized consulting and training solutions.
We take a pragmatic approach to helping you achieve your objectives.
Using our proven methodology and real-world behavioral techniques, we take the guesswork out of planning and preparing for negotiation.
Below, we share our 8-Step Maker Framework designed to position negotiators for success through thoughtful and methodical preparation.
#1: Understand the Objectives
The first step to any negotiation is identifying your needs versus your wants. There’s a difference between your aspirational outcome (best-case scenario) and a realistic, satisfactory outcome.
You have to put your needs ahead of your wants in a negotiation. And you have to consider the needs of your opponent as well.
When you can clearly define what each party is trying to achieve, you can create solutions that foster a win-win outcome.
#2: Have a Clear Idea of the Power Dynamics in Your Negotiation
Dynamics can shift a negotiation on its axis. If you don’t know the dynamics between all parties involved, you forfeit any opportunity to leverage your position.
Recognizing where your power lies versus the other party will allow you to harness it to your benefit. Ask yourself:
- What do I have that the other party really wants?
- How can I position my offer to get what I need while giving up something they want?
- What does the other party have that I really need?
- How can I leverage my offer to obtain what I need?
Just remember, misuse of power could be perceived as unethical. Your reputation depends on how well you develop and maintain business relationships.
#3: Assess the Variables
In every negotiation there are multiple variables to consider and not all of them will have the same value. The main variables to consider in most negotiations are:
- Price – how much will be paid
- Volume – how many, what types, etc.
- Delivery – when and where
- Contract period – when does it start and finish and when will it be reviewed or terminated
- Payment terms – frequency, method, currency, etc.
- Specification – what’s included and how the product/service will be supported
Once you know what you’re negotiating for and what’s important to each party, you can structure your proposals and trades accordingly.
#4: Prepare To Communicate Effectively
The importance of effective communication in negotiation cannot be stressed enough.
Communication is more than just a back-and-forth exchange of words. It’s about understanding the personality types involved and knowing how to structure your communication to adapt to different people.
Ideally, you want to communicate in a way that elicits positive responses from the other parties involved. This involves preconditioning them to understand your message and truly listening to theirs.
Think carefully about the information you need. This will help formulate the questions you need to ask. Then think about the information you’re willing to give up. This will help you formulate your answers to potential questions.
#5: Timing Is Everything — Map Out What Needs To Happen
From a planning perspective, mapping out key events in a negotiation helps provide clarity as the negotiation unfolds.
When time is on your side, you can:
- Consider when you will make proposals
- Wait out your objectives
- Explore alternative outcomes
- Determine when and how you’re willing to pivot
- Test out different strategies; and
- Clarify your goals and deadlines
At times, you may have to consciously create the time needed to achieve your goals, while sometimes the passage of time is all that’s needed to allow the circumstances to align with your preferred outcome.
But, you should always prepare for the most amount of time you think will be required to achieve your purpose.
#6: Perform a Risk Assessment
The outcome is never certain in any negotiation. Risk defines the probability of an unwanted outcome.
Assessing the risks in negotiation allows negotiators to test their willingness to accept the possibility of an undesirable outcome. Knowing where you’re willing to concede, and where you’re not, will further guide your negotiation strategy.
Before you get to the negotiation table, consider:
- What risks may occur
- The probability of those risks occurring
- Preventative measures to stop them from occurring; and
- Mitigation strategies to lessen the effects on your business if they do occur
#7: Time To Negotiate
Yes, this really is the seventh step. Based on our proven framework, the planning process of negotiating accounts for about 80% of the success of the outcome.
However, the planning doesn’t stop here. Now it’s time to carefully construct your proposals, offers, and counter offers.
Based on all your thoughtful preparation, you’ll deploy the behavioral and structural strategies and tactics that you believe will help you achieve your desired outcome.
You should be ready to overcome any expected challenges and objections because you’ve assessed the variables and potential risks.
You’re ready. Now it’s time to make a deal.
#8: The Work Isn’t Over After a Negotiation — Make Sure Everything Aligns for Both Parties
Every negotiator loves the high of reaching an agreement. This can take weeks — months, even — so when it’s done, it’s tempting to start celebrating.
However, you’re not done just yet.
The final step in our 8-Step Maker Framework is to align all parties involved and ensure that each is living up to their end of the bargain.
Determine what actions need to be taken to ensure compliance with the deal and collaborate to establish timelines.
Bonus Tip: Perform a Post-Negotiation Evaluation
While it’s not an official step in our Maker Framework, we do encourage negotiators to do a post-mortem after every deal is finalized.
You’ll gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses when you analyze what you did during the planning and preparation steps compared what actually happened during the negotiation.
Use the successes and failures of every negotiation as learning tools to improve for the next one.
Maker Connect — A Winning Negotiation Preparation Tool
Our proprietary negotiation software, Maker Connect, serves as the foundation for all negotiations. Not only does Maker Connect guide negotiators through all eight steps of the planning and execution process, but it acts as a collaboration tool as well.
Not only will we show you how to prepare for a negotiation, but we back our methods by giving you full access to our SaaS-based tool. With our platform, your negotiators will feel confident to tackle any problem and face any team of negotiators head-on.
Our top priority is to deliver solutions that help your company rise above and beyond your expectations, drive profitability, and achieve your objectives.
Contact The Maker Group and schedule your consultation today
Expertly Plan and Execute Negotiations With The Maker Group on Your Side
Our team of expert commercial negotiators from all industries has experienced negotiating complex, high-value deals successfully. We’ve spent years servicing some of the top companies in the world, and we want to help you.
We understand the importance of planning and how to prepare for a negotiation in the real world. And, we customize our training and consultation services to your unique challenges and needs within your industry.
Our bespoke development workshops and training solutions help our clients achieve their objectives through a thoughtful, step-by-step planning process supported by our proprietary Maker Connect platform.