How do I get what I need out of negotiations?

A short guide on some of the better ways to negotiate your position


Business is all about negotiating your or your companies position against another set of interests. Sometimes if you are lucky, these interests are aligned; other times you want the exact opposite of what your counter-part across the table wants.

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Be clear what you need out of any discussion
  3. Try to tie in different factors
  4. Ask for more than you want
  5. Remember that when the dust settles, you still have to have a working relationship

By . Published: 2017/04/27 10:39:22 AM, Last Updated: 2017/04/28 11:14:11 AM

More detail

Planning ahead

Be clear on when the discussions need to take place, and ensure you get your team in place. We’d suggest, as a minimum, you need;

  • A Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  • Legal representative
  • Procurement representative
  • Business/stakeholder owner or sponsor

Meet as a team BEFORE you meet the other company. Your roles will already be pre-defined but it never hurts to clarify who is going to cover what element and why.

Set out timelines, allocate resource, project plan ahead and DRIVE the activity to the other party.

Be clear what you want

It sounds obvious but in the heat of discussions this can sometimes get a little lost. Define, and get all stakeholder approval/sign off, of what your base line is (i.e. position you won’t go any lower than), what a reasonable outcome might look like and what really good looks like. Examples would be;

  • Contractual terms you’d like
  • Payment terms
  • Cost per unit
  • Added value services
  • Commitment to reduce operational expenses via process enhancements etc

Practice as a team. Rehearse. Role play scenarios so you understand what to do when it starts to go wrong, all working as a team.

Tie in different factors

In isolation it can be easy for a party to dismiss a request. Lets say you want to be able to hold your prices, once negotiated for a minimum of a 2 year period but you know the other party won’t like this. Go through the contract and find a similar time frame that they want, such as a 2 year guarantee on goods provided or data held. Tie the two together; you want two years here, we want it there. It seems fair and brings another factor into play.

If there are particularly onerous clauses such as on liability being unlimited for example, seek reciprocality with the other party; if its OK for you to have it, surely it’s OK for them to have it too?

Ask for more than you want

In a negotiation, compromises will have to be made. If you need 3 aspects in a contract and go in asking for those 3, chances are you will walk away with only 2 or 1. Create a wish list and ask for it. Be sensible and credible, give clear rationale, and be prepared to concede on some points (planning ahead means you as a team already know what these are).

There is also an argument that says you don’t know how far you could have pushed things until someone says no and walks away.

Working Relationship

Bear in mind that in nearly all discussions a working relationship is either formed or renewed. Even if not, people will move from job to job and you will come across them again. There can be a fine line between being a credible and tough opponent and an unpleasant character who gets peoples backs up.

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FAQ Created: 2017/04/27 10:39:22 AM, Last Updated: 2017/04/28 11:14:11 AM By .