Whether you are negotiating a deal, a contract, or a case there are techniques and strategies to achieve your goal. 

1. Know Your Audience

Before you can successfully negotiate, you need to know who you are communicating with.  Is your audience a sophisticated company, a grandmother, a lawyer that went to Yale, a police officer, another CEO, the salesman.  Once you know who is the recipient of your message or who is in the “room where it happens” then  you can anticipate what will resonate and what hot buttons they will care about.  You need insight into the people, not just the business.  You get this by experience with similar people and having a high emotional intelligence.  Your EQ is even more important than your IQ, but you better have that too if you’re going to do big deals. 

2. Make Certain You Know the Decision Maker

The audience very well may not be the decision maker.  If you don’t know who will be the decider you are negotiating in the dark.  Sometimes the decision maker is obvious, like the other company CEO.  Sometimes the company is so enormous you can’t even tell who is in charge of what department and has what level of authority.  The first few rounds of negotiations may be information gathering so you can figure out who the decision maker is.  How?  You ask smart questions that lead you to the answer.  If the wife is really the decider and the husband is the audience, won’t that affect how you negotiate and the message you craft?  Or if the private equity board chair rules and the Controller doesn’t really have authority to cut a deal, don’t you want to focus on EBITDA? 

3. Pack Your Bullets

When I prepare for a mediation, I pack my bullets.  It’s a planned day of formal settlement discussions where a professional mediator goes between the parties in order to try to reach a deal.  Rather than just pass numbers back and forth, I plan to shoot bullets.  In some negotiations you get more time to prepare and select the bullets.  In others, its more like the wild west and you better be quick on your feet to draw them out.  A bullet might be a prior case, a former employee’s testimony, a video from the internet, another pending deal, or any other element of pressure. 

4. Know Your Win

Before you go into the negotiation, you need to have a defined win.  You certainly can’t negotiate for a client and not know what the desired goal is and if it’s realistic.  Sometimes goals are easily determined, like a dollar amount.  Other times, it’s a public relations message, or a purchase order.  If the goal is fuzzy, so will be your negotiations. 

5. Know When You’re Outgunned

You might not be the right one to negotiate this deal.  That is OK.  What is not OK, is being at the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy and not even knowing you are consciously incompetent. 


For more, my new book, Worth It, will launch on August 23, 2019 on Amazon and I’ll be presenting live at the BE WORTH IT leadership conference.  For details and to register now before the tickets are sold out, go to www.beworthit.com.  

To reach the author contact Jeana Goosmann, CEO & Managing Attorney, at  GoosmannJ@Goosmannlaw.com or (712) 226-4000. 


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