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There are ten steps that can be followed to simplify and organize the planning approach for a successful negotiations process and help you keep your eye on the prize.  This Gain-Gain approach should increase your efficiency and effectiveness, as well as your ability to create a coordinated team effort that sends a consistent message to the other party in the negotiation.

Step 1: Never forget your true objective – to maximize your own gain

Remember ME comes before WE, but you need them to get there. Only you decide if you move, how much and in what way.

Step 2: Prepare or don’t play

Learn as much as you can about the other party, including personal information, and keep a clearing house of notes for the future.  Learn about the context in which the other party functions – industry, customers, vendors, partners, competitors.  Use connectors to your advantage.  Create viable alternatives and determine how you can decrease their real or perceived best alternative. Know your value to them and how to reduce their perception of the value they bring you.  Create a living, dynamic MAP to guide you with positions, interests, priorities, and prepared reactions to resistance or games.  Plan your bidding and counter bidding strategy.  Practice and role play.

Step 3: Empathize with the other side, don’t sympathize

Put yourself in their shoes and inside their head.  If something doesn’t make sense ask how you would feel in their shoes and how can you use this information.  Consider how you would respond to what you are saying and what would motivate you to say what they are saying.  But don’t lose sight of the prize – ME comes before WE.  Invest in the person by being personal, but not by giving up value.  Be firm about value, but flexible in the form of that value.

Step 4: Teach them to empathize with you

Use the language of the other party and what they have already said – put it in their terms.  Emphasize that “I’m just like you.”

Step 5: Manage yourself

Take a hard, honest look at yourself and develop strategies to use your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.  Be trustworthy, but verify what you’re told.  While most people are trustworthy, many are not and you can’t tell by looking at them or talking to them. Believe what you say and say what you mean.  Use the power of conviction and transparency.  Be responsive but not too available.  Trust your instincts.  Play by whatever rules you ask them to play by.

Step 6: Manage the other party

Make sure that you make the deal worth their while, while making them play by their own rules.  Get guarantees, not promises – rebates, not volume discounts.  Use the power of principled persuasion, based on reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency, consensus and making friends to influence people.  Remember that discounting does not produce a friendly relationship, but a friendly relationship reduces the need to discount.

Step 7: Exchange information before you exchange value

Don’t sell any deal until you know what can and should be sold.  This can be determined by exhibiting productive listening.  Listen with your ears instead of your mouth and don’t interrupt.  Act like a jury member, not a defense attorney.  Also listen with your body (to manage them) and your mind (to manage you).  Challenge your assumptions and take notes in order to see what’s missing.  After you listen be Sherlock.  When they have finished, begin with a pause to collect your thoughts and give them a chance to say more or move without the need to push.  Acknowledge what you’ve heard by repeating key points, and express empathy and understanding, not agreement.  Ask questions.  Model good behavior and set the rules. Don’t apologize for the need to obtain value and remind them that you know that they will need to do the same.  Prepare to respond to questions that you do not want to answer.  Don’t ask questions if you don’t know what to do with the answer, or if they incent the other party to lie.  Prepare to say no and explain why.  Provide solutions, not just problems.  Remember that how you say something can have more impact that what you say.

Step 8: Time is on your side

Share your time deadlines, but don’t share your time costs.  Remember the importance of momentum – feed a conversation, starve an impasse.  Use a time-out when needed to think, get them to move or reduce emotion.

Step 9: Consider implications for the future

Consider what precedent this deal will set and how it will impact the future profitability of deals.  Know what happens if the other side doesn’t follow through – is this part of the agreement?  Is the deal enforceable?

Step 10: Refine and Learn