You are in the middle of an intense negotiation for a big contract with a large company. If you are able to come to an agreement, you will make one of the largest commissions you’ve ever made. You are almost there, and then your negotiating opponent throws you for a loop by asking for a last-minute concession on the price.
What do you do?
If you have a proper system of negotiation in place, it will be easy for you. You will just react based on pre-defined rules that you’ve already set for yourself before starting the negotiations.
You do have a set of rules and a system in place, don’t you?
If not, it’s time to put one into place.
First, you will need to define the desired outcome of the negotiation. What is your ultimate mission and purpose? What does a successful outcome look like for you?
Within that framework, there will be plenty of smaller agreements to come to before the big agreement is made. So, you will need to draw out a map, at least in your mind and preferably on paper.
Start at square one and list all of the potential forks in the road. What decisions could you possibly have to make during the course of the negotiation? If you are offering consulting services for example, you may think of some of the following:
How many hours will you be expected to dedicate to this client?
Will you be working on-site or off-site?
Will you be the only one working on the client’s project or will there be a team available?
Are you offering a guaranteed level of performance?
Are you going to bill up-front, after the work is done, or in small increments throughout?
For each one of these questions, you should already have an answer. Once one of these items comes up in the negotiation, you won’t even have to think about your approach to it, your system will kick in and the answer is right there for you.
The same applies to a fighter pilot. If the pilot has lost control of the plane, there will be a certain protocol to follow that will eventually lead to the pilot ejecting from the plane. Because the pilot has trained beforehand and knows the sequence of events that lead up to this decision, he is able to eject calmly.
If you or I were in that situation and had never trained and thought of our system of evaluating when to eject, we would panic. We wouldn’t know if ejecting is the right thing to do or not. We would question our own sanity. What’s missing is a simple and automatic decision-making protocol.
So, before going into your next negotiation, consider all possible scenarios and decide beforehand how you will handle them. Will it be something you can continue on with, or will it be a roadblock that will prevent the continuation of the negotiation?
Once you have this system in place, your negotiations will be on auto-pilot.