All negotiation requires first-class communication skills. You need to be able to put forward proposals clearly and to understand exactly what the other side is offering. Such skills are vital in all kinds of management, so try to improve them.
Preparing For Talks
The better prepared a negotiation, the greater its chances of success. Start by deciding on your objectives. Next, decide who will conduct the negotiation. Will it be one person or a team? If it is a team, who will form the best partnerships? Ensure the team thoroughly researches the issues and their positions. The research will help to determine the agenda agreed with the other side. Have the team do at least one-role play beforehand. Finally, develop your minimum position – that is, at least you will settle for.
Negotiating experts usually base their approach around needs – generally the needs of the other side. When you enter negotiations “working for the other side’s needs”, you are taking maximum control with minimum risk. Good timing is crucial. During the debating and bargaining stages, you need to judge what the other side is thinking and pick your moment to raise or alter your offer, reject a proposal, or introduce a new element. Always try to shift the opposition from an adversarial stance towards an alliance. Asking leading questions, such as “Are you ready to sign?” is one way to soften your stance while gaining attention, getting and giving information, and stimulating thought.
Negotiating To Buy
Two things are essential when you are negotiating to buy. Firstly, decide exactly what you need (not what you want). Remember the seller’s job is to persuade you that your needs and their offer are the same. Secondly, decide how much you are prepared to pay. Set yourself an upper limit, and do not exceed it. In such a negotiation, the first person to name a price is at a disadvantage, so try to persuade the other side to be the first to make a financial offer.
Working With Suppliers
The traditional way to negotiate suppliers is to get a number of quotes in from more than one supplier (to create healthy competition), listen to the quotes, bargain hard, ask for substantial cuts, raise your offer a little, and settle for the lowest possible price. If the supplier fails in quality or delivery, you negotiate again.
A newer, better approach is to choose the best suppliers and negotiate in a way that achieves lower costs and shared profits for both sides. With this approach, instead of making the price the only issue, you first negotiate reliability and other non-price issues before discussing actual costs.
Bargaining With Staffs
One-to-one meetings can be useful for individual negotiations with staff on issues like quality of work and productivity. When you conclude an agreement, remember that it helps if the other side thinks that they have won, even if they have not. If you ever have to deal with hostile professional negotiators (perhaps when a union is involved), and if their demand is above your maximum position, keep calm and concentrate on securing a result within your limits.
- Choose naturally differing personality types in your negotiating team.
- Think about your ideal outcome – and how you can achieve it.
- Share helpful information with suppliers – long term, it may help you win a better deal.
- Remember that people seldom go on strike over non-pay issues.