When you negotiate, how do you position your offer in order to enhance the probability of reaching your goal(s)? The way you position your offer, to a great degree, determines whether it will be accepted as presented, downgraded, or worse, completely ignored.

When people negotiate, too many times they present their offer in a haphazard manner. They may not convey the offer with conviction, or succinctly, which in turn will cause their negotiating partner not to place a high degree of perceived value on the offer.

Some negotiators, when they know they're negotiating against a savvy individual, will position their offer in a 'bracketed' manner. In essence, they'll cloak their desired outcome/goal, inside of a higher request. In bracketing their position, a negotiator will send up "trial balloons". Trail balloons are questions or outcomes posed in a hypothetical sense. They're used to glean additional information without having to commit to a position, unless the response is favorable to the senders outcome.

If the response is not favorable, a good negotiator will probe again to determine what, in theory, can be offered to reach the cloaked goal. While doing this, a savvy negotiator will be gaining valuable insight into how their negotiation partner is thinking and what stimuli might increase the probability of a successful negotiation outcome.

Thus, a savvy negotiator will take into consideration several factors when contemplating how to present and position her offer ...

  1. What's the skill level of the person I'm negotiating with?
  2. How badly does my negotiation partner need this deal?
  3. What value does my offer have to my partner?
  4. What will occur if my negotiation partner can't close the deal?
  5. What might the other party's 'fall back' strategy be?
  6. To what degree will I have to give up what I have of value to get what I'm seeking?
  7. How hard can I negotiate/push for the outcome I desire without jeopardizing the whole deal?
  8. What time constraint is the negotiation under?
  9. What 'fall back' strategies will I employ to assist me in reaching my goal(s)?
  10. What will I do, if I can't successfully close this session?

In asking yourself the above questions, you'll gain insight into the direction you should progress during the negotiation, but even more, you will have gained great insight into how to position your value proposition before the negotiation.

If you know your partner has a time constraint on the negotiation and he doesn't have another source from which to acquire what you're offering, you're sitting in a very strong position. If on the other hand your 'value proposition' is not unique and it can readily be found or had in several other environments, you should assess what your perceived value is, as viewed by your negotiation partner, and work that perception to your advantage. In the latter situation, if you acquire 80% of what you're negotiating for, you should consider yourself ahead of the game and everything will be right with the world.

The negotiation lessons are ...

  • Always assess your strengths before contemplating a negotiation session. By doing so you'll uncover insights into why another party may want to negotiate with you and you'll gain insights into your negotiation weaknesses.
  • Assess the skill level and needs of your negotiating partner. From that assessment, you can make some determinations as to what might 'move' that person in one direction or another and you'll get a glimpse into their source(s) of motivation.
  • When you negotiate with someone, give them more credit than they may warrant. Don't put yourself behind the proverbial eight ball by underestimating their negotiation abilities.

Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator



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