There is one fundamental stage of negotiating which if not attended to correctly will undermine any negotiation process regardless of the strength or skills you may bring to the table – Planning.
Essentially this is your Pre-game prep and it needs to be great if the rest of your game plan is to succeed. What are the variables up for negotiation and what is your optimum outcome and at what point do you walk away? It is important to decide how you want to play the game, what will your initial moves be, how will you react to different offers?
All these ideas and positions need to be documented in a planning document that you can take into the meeting with you. A guide to keep you on track and avoid losing value for when the pressure is on.
Whilst planning your moves and your reactions is important you should spend the much greater proportion of time planning around the other party. What will their potential variables be? Where could they potentially make a deal or walk away? What pressures are they under and how can you influence/increase them?
The successful negotiator will spend time in the other party’s head throughout the process and they achieve that by planning sufficiently to understand all the dynamics and pressures that surround their opponent and do not allow themselves to become consumed with their own issues and positions.
In preparing for negotiation ask yourself how much time have a spent preparing for this negotiation and make sure you ask yourself these questions…
Have I looked at all the options and variables on the table?
What will I open with and how will I move?
What are the pressures on the other party and how do I affect them?
Where will they approach this negotiation from?
What is their potential range and at what point could they walk away?