Assessing your negotiations can help you identify what’s really important to the other party.
Throughout a negotiation, you should be assessing what’s happening. Track major negotiating points over time. See what’s a plus or a minus versus the last round of negotiations. If you go back to your initial goals and what the other party’s initial goals were, their must-haves, want-to-haves, nice-to-haves and also evaluate it for your end, you can track over time where are you making concessions? Where’s the other party fighting hard for something? Doing this type of assessment can help you identify what’s really important to them and what’s not.
Assessment can help you identify topics that recur and also areas where they’re more willing to make concessions. Be very aware of prior offers that you make. Make sure you have documentation because the other party can bring them back up later and use them against you. Now the good news is you can do the same thing. But if you’re not aware of an offer you make or an offer, even worse, that somebody on your team makes that you’re not aware of, those things can come back to bite you in the end.
I had a situation where we were negotiating for a long period of time, and after each set of emails, because that was the dominant communication vehicle for those communications, my partners and I sat down and we compared notes. We looked for concessions they were requesting. We also considered negotiating techniques they were using, things like the invisible man where they were saying, “Hey, I need to go check with someone else before I can offer this point.” They were also using a technique called the bogey, where they were making something out to be really important to them, but as we tracked it, it was clear that it really wasn’t. We were able to look at how our old quotes and conversations were being used against us in the deal.
Now the first deal we made with them, we didn’t really understand all of these dynamics, and it didn’t go as well for us as we would have liked. But we learned because we assessed that deal after the fact. It made us much more mindful of how we should structure our future quotes. We knew what was really important to them. We knew how they would use these various tools and techniques against us, like the invisible man or the bogey. And all of our future offers were based on an understanding of how that last negotiation went. We were much more successful in future rounds.
Make sure you’re taking the time to pause and assess what’s going well, what’s not. What are they pushing on, and what are they willing to concede? And think through how that’s going to impact your overall negotiating strategy and the position you take in subsequent rounds.
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