Defining Your Goals in a Negotiation
By laying out your position before a negotiation, you’ll be more prepared to fight for the things that are important to you.
Before you even enter into conversations with the other party, you have to define your goals. Consider several things for your side of the negotiation.
First, who’s involved from your side and who’s ultimately going to make the decision? By getting an understanding of the stakeholders who are going to have an interest in the outcome as well as who the final decision maker is, you’re going to be able to better generate support on your side of things to get a deal done.
Next, think through your must-haves, want-to-haves, and nice-to-haves. By clearly laying out all of those positions in multiple columns on a single page, you’ll have clarity throughout the negotiations on what you’re trying to get and what you’re willing to concede. It’ll make you more successful in each phase of the negotiation.
Next, lay out what’s the desired outcome and what happens if there’s no deal? You have to understand what your alternatives are going to be. Also know when have you achieved success and when do you need to stop negotiating. Once you get to yes, you shouldn’t push things much further because you could ruin the deal.
And lastly, lay out your alternatives to a deal. This isn’t the only deal on the table. Think through the other options you have because that’s also going to inform your negotiating strategy.
One of the acquisitions I was looking at doing involved a leadership team as well as our board of directors. We couldn’t do a deal unless the board finally approved. One of our must-haves was an expandable platform, that was a must. When we bought this company, we needed to be able to grow it. We wanted high-quality operations and techniques, but we could bring our own to the party if those didn’t exist. We also wanted a fair price and wanted control over the operations of the combined company.
In terms of outcomes, we laid out that we desired a deal but we had alternatives. We could buy someone else if this deal fell through. We could also build our own capability if we weren’t able to buy it. The risk of no deal was that they could sell their company to a competitor. By understanding everything we wanted as a company when we went into the negotiations, we were much better prepared to fight for the things that were really important to us and to make concessions that we could easily make. We also had a higher chance of success of bringing back a deal to our approving authority, the board of directors, that was going to satisfy their needs.
By laying out your position, you’re going to be able to go into negotiations knowing what you want and also understand what’s going to get you approval on your side of the deal.
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