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5 Steps of Rapid Preparation for Negotiation Success

"Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability...
We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation."

Thomas A. Edison

Preparation is often the greatest determinant of negotiation success. Across negotiation studies and surveys, we see sellers who get the best outcomes: know what they sell, research buyer wants and needs through sources other than the buyer, have a keen understanding of the buyer's day-to-day life and concerns, and prepare for each negotiation with trades, counteroffers, and knowledge of their walk-away points.

Sellers who don't plan often get taken advantage of.

Planning and preparation are like retirement savings—everyone knows they should do it. However, while 51% of people are worried their retirement nest eggs won't cut it, 84% of people have less than $100,000 in retirement savings.1 2

Don't be like them.

Essential Rule of Sales Negotiation #6: Plan to Win

Know what you want. Plan for tactics you might face.

Knowledge is a source of power. Lack of knowledge introduces doubt on both sides of the negotiation, which can lead to fizzed negotiations and lost sales. You can anticipate so many aspects of negotiation if you do your research beforehand. Eliminate doubt and drive toward creating strong agreements by preparing properly.

A major reason people don't plan is they don't know the elements of good planning.

Luckily, we've compiled these elements into a simple checklist. You can access this checklist by downloading your complimentary copy of our new ebook, 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation.

If you have an important negotiation, prepare a complete negotiation plan. Use the checklist to make sure your plan covers all the bases.

5 Steps of Rapid Preparation for Negotiation Success

Sometimes you have a smaller negotiation, or you may have only an hour to consider major issues. If you have limited time, there are 5 crucial steps to help you prepare:

  1. Identify your objectives and their objectives
  2. Brainstorm possibilities and trades
  3. Know your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and Reservation Price (the least favorable point at which one will accept a negotiated agreement)
  4. Decide how to open
  5. Analyze leverage. How much do they want or need you?

Never go into a negotiation unprepared.

Negotiation is not an arena for improvisation. You can end up caving to buyer demands or accepting an offer that is not in your interest. You can end up giving the buyer pause when they question your preparedness, skill, and overall competence, casting doubt on their desire to buy from you.

Most importantly, with the right plan you can expand the pie, build confidence, handle challenges and issues that come up along the way, and lead the way to successful agreements for both you and the buyer.


1 Todd Campbell, "Americans' 5 Big Fears About Retirement," FOX News, December 17, 2016, http://www. foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/12/17/americans-5-big-fears-about-retirement.html.

2 Elyssa Kirkham, "1 in 3 Americans Has Saved $0 for Retirement," Money, March 14, 2016, http://time.com/ money/4258451/retirement-savings-survey.

Additional Reading
4 Tips to Avoid Caving in Sales Negotiations

My grandfather Sidney was raised during the great depression. Often hungry growing up, he learned the value of a dollar the hard way. It stuck with him the rest of his life. When I was in college, he never let me call him because he would say it was long-distance.

I told him that the distance was long, but the call didn't cost anything. Still, he could barely stay on the phone for 5 minutes. I could visualize the nickels clinking in his mind, making him uncomfortable with the cost of the call.

Emotion is Not the Enemy: 7 Ways to Use Emotion to Your Advantage in Sales Negotiations

It's common advice to minimize emotions in a negotiation. For example, the reading line of the article "Emotion: The 'Enemy' of Negotiation" is "To succeed in negotiation, says one Wharton expert, one must take emotion out of the equation."

We disagree. Emotions are primary drivers of decision making in buying, and primary drivers in negotiation outcomes. Emotions shouldn't be minimized. Instead, they should be guided and managed for both buyer and seller so that the best outcome can be achieved by all.