Business Negotiations – One myth and eight tips from the real world
by Ian Bishop
Most training courses in negotiation will advise you that the “win/win” result is always what you should aim for. That’s when both parties feel they have done well out of the deal, and both want the other to do well, too. It’s a myth because only if both parties want it, is it possible to achieve a result that satisfies them both.
Tip One: watch out for “animals”
All too often, in my experience, the other side’s version of “win/win” is that they win twice! So my first tip in this article is to try and work out what kind of negotiator you are facing. If they are genuinely seeking a mutually satisfactory result, then work towards one. But if they are the kind of negotiator that only feels satisfied if they have “won” and you’ve been destroyed, then defend yourself and fight for your life! And if you are facing one of the “animals” of the business world, and you need the negotiations to result in a long term partnership of some kind, you’ve got a problem. It may well be best to walk away before the negotiations start, because the two parties will never be happy together!
Tip Two: think about the power balance
As part of your preparations you need to think about where the power lies. If you are “buying”, how eager will the other side be to make a sale? Do you have alternative possible suppliers who might be more eager? If you are “selling”, try and work out whether you have genuine competition for the deal, or whether you have some competitive advantage that will push the prospective customer towards you. Your analysis won’t be perfect, but this sort of thinking will help you evaluate the negotiating process as you go through it.
Tip Three: get the legal advice early
If you are about to negotiate a contract that will, in the end, have to be vetted by a lawyer before being signed, you will find that it’s best to get legal guidance before the negotiations, rather than after. You will present yourself as much more authoritative if you know ahead of time what the lawyer will expect to see in the agreement you negotiate, and this will add to your power in the actual negotiating process.
Tip Four: define your objectives, and your absolute minimum result, in advance
Before you start negotiating, you should always be clear in your own mind what a satisfactory result would be. You need to be clear on your minimum; below this level you don’t do business. Check out with your co-decision-makers, and your boss if the deal is a big one, where they think the line should be drawn. Stick to it; keep it at the forefront of your thinking during the negotiations, but never on any account let the opposition know where your limit is, because that would inevitably become their maximum!
Tip Five: take your time
You don’t need to rush. If you ever start to feel that the other side is rushing, maybe pushing deadlines at you, then be very careful in case this is a tactic to “bounce” you into a deal that you might live to regret! If you need time to think, or make calculations, or consult others, then take it. Call a “time-out”, go off into another room, and do what you need to do, in your own time. It’s particularly important if there are several of you in a negotiating team to take regular breaks, so that you can consult and agree future tactics.
Tip Six: keep the whole deal in view
Try to remember all the possible elements of the deal, and make sure that both parties agree them all. It’s humiliating, and sometimes catastrophic, if you agree a deal but find you have to re-start the negotiations because some element of the deal got lost along the way. If you are a seller, keep summarising the negotiation, mentioning all the elements of the proposal you are trying to sell. If you are a buyer, try to get as much as possible free, included without extra charge in the overall deal.
Tip Seven: keep notes
When something is agreed, write it down. After the meeting write to the other party to confirm the agreements made. Remember the old saying; “If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen.”
Tip 8- take care with language
And finally,when you are re-reading a contract just before signing it, remember that words matter, especially in contracts where lawyers are involved. Many legal words have unusual or unexpected meanings. Reading a lawyer’s contract can seem quite like reading a foreign language.
If your contract is written in English, as so many international agreements are, and English is not your mother tongue, you need to be especially careful. English is a really flexible language, and is capable of both great precision and great vagueness! But please remember that if you are in contact with the Aim team (kursus bahasa Inggris in the local language) you can always get advice from them on any important document. If your company is in Jakarta, Aim can also incorporate negotiating skills into your tailor-made language training programme.
About the Author: Ian Bishop manages Aim for English, a Jakarta-based language training provider. He also writes articles on education, business, and technology Original Article source.