We will start this article with an everyday example. If you go on a weekend trip to Rome and you don’t prepare anything (you don’t have a plane ticket, you don’t have a hotel booked, you don’t have restaurant reservations, you don’t have a tourist guide and you have no idea what you will do), what will happen is that your weekend will most likely be a disaster because you will not have anything prepared and you will waste a lot of time organising all these things. You will pay more money for plane tickets, it will cost you more to find restaurants available and you will miss interesting things to visit because you didn’t even know they existed. On the other hand, if you prepare a trip well in advance, you can get cheaper air fares, you will not have problems going to the restaurants you have chosen, you will have more hotels to choose from, you will be better able to find out which places you should not miss and your weekend will be a success.
Preparation is the starting point of any negotiation, and of many things in life. As a negotiator, you should know that preparation is an essential part of the process. According to some experts, 90% of success lies in good preparation. Without an established programme, you will improvise, which will provide you with unpredictable results and a limited view of the situation. Most accidents or bad negotiations that I have witnessed are due to poor preparation. If I am poorly prepared for the negotiation, unforeseen things will happen to me due to my lack of anticipation.
A more extreme example could be that of a person who wants to climb Everest. No matter how willing he is, no matter how much money he has, if he does not have good physical, mental and logistical training, he will not be able to reach the top. Preparation is therefore a complex and necessary process for the success of our projects and challenges.
It is believed that one hour of planned negotiation requires two hours of advance preparation to go well and work on all the necessary aspects. However, many negotiators hardly spend any time preparing. Preparation is always a profitable investment in negotiation.
If you know what you want and know the other party’s strategy, you will always get the best deals. If you want to get a good deal, you must prepare to foresee all possible risks and to have all the information for the best strategy to use.