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Be Clear on Your Objective Before Creating Your Negotiation Strategy

John Hopkins
Be Clear On Your Objective Before Creating Your Negotiation Strategy

While negotiation might seem like a complex dance with lawyers, probity, subject matter experts and even external negotiation training and support specialists, it often boils down to a clear understanding of your goal. This is where differentiating between your negotiation objective and negotiation strategy becomes crucial. 


Identifying Your Objective: The Foundation of Negotiation 

Your objective is ‘what’ you want to achieve. It's the core purpose of the negotiation. 


Here are some tips to identify it effectively: 


  • Start with a fundamental question: What do I want to get out of this negotiation? 
  • Explore different paths: Are there various ways to reach this objective? If so, revisit and refine your objective if necessary. 
  • Consider alternatives: Do other options exist to achieve your goal? Does this change your initial objective? 
  • Prioritise when faced with multiple goals: If you have several objectives, rank them by importance. 


By taking the time to solidify your objective, you lay the groundwork for a successful negotiation strategy. 


Developing a Negotiation Strategy: Your Roadmap to Success 

Your negotiation strategy is your action plan for achieving your objectives in a negotiation. It outlines the tactics you'll use, the concessions you're prepared to make, and your walk away point.  


Some considerations you may want to cover in your strategy include: 


  1. Know Your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement): What's your Plan B if no deal is reached? A strong BATNA gives you leverage. 
  2. Research the Other Side: Understand their goals, interests, and potential weaknesses. 
  3. Develop Concessions and Trade-offs: Be prepared to offer something to get something. 
  4. Practice Makes Perfect: Role-play the negotiation to anticipate the other side's tactics and refine your responses.  


Objective vs. Strategy: A Case Study 


Recently, a client brought me in to offer negotiation support on what looked like a fairly complex IT support acquisition on behalf of a significant Australian business. The engagement was one day a week and included negotiation training, negotiation coaching, and ultimately, leading the negotiation on behalf of the client. 


In this case, our strategy was to engage with the broader industry as well as the incumbent to tender for my clients supply needs and understand the best deal available. This helped form our BATNA, and ultimately provided us with the necessary information needed to move forward with the negotiation. A successful negotiation strategy hinges on thorough preparation, understanding the needs and motivations of all involved parties, and fostering open communication channels. It involves the art of active listening, empathy, and the ability to creatively problem-solve. 


By following our strategy, it highlighted that our objective could be achieved far quicker and more efficiently than anticipated. 


What initially looked like over 60 negotiating issues and contract departures quickly became a simple contract rollover with the incumbent supplier. The negotiation centred around 2 or 3 items each party wanted to include in the final document, and both parties' boards ratified the deal within a couple of days. 


The result of having an expert in negotiation capability like Scotwork assisting and providing negotiation support provided the client with the best possible outcome and the most time- and cost-efficient result. 


Happy negotiating! 

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