Lifetime Negotiators

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In this short article I am going to cover two of the basic principles of negotiation I have learned and applied in my lifetime. Why “lifetime” and not “business career”? Because I believe we were all good negotiators at one point in our lives. If you do not believe me, try to get a young child to do something it does not want to do, like go to bed early. They deploy one of the first principles of negotiation – never give without getting.

You want something from them. In return they want something from you. “I will if you read me a story,” or “Can I just finish this first?”. Clever little negotiators.

So many times, I have seen people preparing for a negotiation by putting together a list of the things they are willing to give away, sometimes even in what order they are going to give them. This is not a bad thing to do – but we should also be listing what we want in return. For example, what would you like back from this prospective customer for the price discount they are demanding?

What if they will not give us what we are asking for? This leads us to the next key principle of negotiation – if you are not ready to walk away from the deal, you are not ready to negotiate. Too many times we tell ourselves we are negotiating when in fact we are just conceding.

Whether you are buying a home, a car or closing a deal at work you must be willing to walk away if you do not get a deal that is good for you. Of course, the party on the other side of the negotiation is doing the same thing. If you think you are negotiating but you are not willing to walk away from the deal, all you can do is make concessions until the other party is happy.

That is not what we want to do, is it? So, document what you want to get from the other party along with what you are willing to give. Make a note of the things that will make you walk away from the deal if you do not get them. Then make sure you stick to it!

Prepare yourself emotionally and rationally if you are going into a negotiation. Emotionally, by getting yourself into a mindset where you are prepared to walk away. Rationally, by deciding what you want to get from the negotiation and, in return, the most you would be willing to give.

This article was written by Tony Birch.

Tony Birch is the founder and current Chairman of Shipley Limited in the UK. Tony served on the main board of the APMP for four years and was elected a Fellow of the organisation in 2006, for his work in developing and launching the APMP’s Certification Programme. Since founding Shipley, Tony has trained thousands of sales and bid professionals around the world.

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