10 keys to successful negotiation

A good negotiation is prepared before it begins. The better prepared we are, the greater the chances of success in our negotiation. It is always useful to remember these basic rules, often indispensable in our professional and sometimes personal lives. Tips from a negotiation consultant…


1. Set clear negotiation objectives

What do you want to achieve through negotiation? Is it a better price? Is it a higher turnover? Is it the development of your product? Write down all the objectives that are to be achieved through the negotiation process. The objectives will help you to determine other sub-elements in the process later on.

2. Setting the limits

Boundaries must be clearly established in your mind, how far you want to go and beyond that, no longer accept anything. This step can take a lot of time if there are several of you on your side to negotiate. Anticipate this time well in advance because it will be precious for the success of your negotiation.

3. Analyze the other party

Gather as much information as possible before arriving at the negotiating table. What is the situation of the other party? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Prepare appropriate responses to both strengths and weaknesses in order to advance your objectives. This should never be, as far as possible, confrontational, on the contrary, it is a question of seeking complementarities and exploiting them. Pay particular attention to whether or not the person you are negotiating with has the power to decide. If not, try not to enter into a real negotiation until you are sitting across from a real decision maker.

4. Put yourself in the shoes of your counterparts

What do your counterparts expect in the negotiation? What are their interests and limitations? Be flexible and try to look at things from their point of view, from a different angle. You are in a position to potentially find important elements for the other person but not necessarily for yourself. From then on, you are already taking the first steps towards a possible compromise, i.e. the success of your negotiation.

5. Make sure everything is covered in the proposed offer

Prepare the draft of the offer that will be negotiated. This is the basis on which questions will be asked and answers will be given. Very importantly, assume that anything you don’t ask for will never be obtained. Make sure that everything you want to include is included, and only then start negotiating.

6. Make sure that what you want is not considered too much

While it is advisable to cover everything you want first, be careful not to overdo it as any perceived abuse can result in a significant delay or even failure of the negotiations.

7. Show your willingness to negotiate

An offer made without conditions and without discussion is not a negotiation. Although your objective is to accept or propose an offer, it is often unfortunate not to discuss every important term beforehand. So show the other side that you are willing to negotiate with the goal of a mutually acceptable solution.

8. Listen carefully

We often feel the need to talk too much, especially under stress. However, it is important to remember that the other side also has something to say. While others are talking, don’t wait for a break to make your point. Take note of what the other party is saying, what is important to them. This way, you improve your visibility and knowledge to get the most out of the discussion. The best negotiators are usually those who have the best listening and observation skills.

9. Ask for everyone’s input on the key elements of the offer

Always insist that both your own and the other party give feedback on the key elements of the offer. This is the best way to get the information you want, directly. In addition, it may encourage the other party to say something that you can use in your favor.

10. Monitor and evaluate the entire negotiation process

Carefully monitor the reactions and general behavior of your counterparts when you speak. This can be related to body movements, reactions, eye contact… This is valuable information that can help you to create a good opinion and atmosphere, often a key factor in successful negotiations.

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