According to the experts, a successful negotiation consists of 90% preparation and 10% improvisation. Perhaps this proportion is exaggerated, but it is clear that relying solely on improvisation can be very risky. Preparation depends on factors such as time, availability, the people involved, the issue to be addressed, the information obtained, external pressures and more.
Some negotiators view preparation as designing a road map that must be followed to the letter. However, this is not always useful because we often disregard the other party. With such a strict viewpoint, anticipation is nearly impossible.
Preparing for a negotiation can be compared to the work of an airplane pilot before taking off: although there will be circumstances that you cannot control (a possible storm or a sick passenger, etc.), you can review other things, such as how the aircraft is operating, the weather forecast, the profile of the crew, the number of passengers and the state of the airport. The more you can forecast, the better, but you must understand that some factors will not depend on it. As a negotiator, you should always have your checklist handy. The effort invested in preparation will always be rewarded with additional success.
What does the checklist contain? To be useful, it must include the following points:
- What results do you expect?
- What are the points to be negotiated?
- What is your interest regarding each negotiable topic?
- What is your hypothesis regarding the other party’s interests?
- What would the other party think in your place?
- What will they ask of you?
- How are you going to feel?
- What do they think of your needs?
- What will be your first offer?
- What is the information that you will obtain from the base?
- What information can be used against you?
- What is your goal for future relationships?
- What is your perception of the situation?
- What disagreements do you have?
- What strategy will you use to start the negotiation?
- What technical supports will you use?
- What arguments will there be in favour of your strategy?
- What alternative solution do you have?
- What other possibilities does the other party have?
To structure all these questions, I suggest that you prepare the negotiation in 10 phases:
- Identifying a satisfactory result.
- Creating value and searching for options.
- Identifying the BATNA and the reservation value.
- Authority and anticipating the decision.
- Knowing who the negotiator is and how he or she behaves.
- Searching for objective criteria.
- Predicting the negotiating process.