1. Know the ‘pie’ – fixed or variable
‘Fixed pie’ negotiations are those where the only way I can get a better outcome is to get you to accept a lesser outcome. These never result in a win-win outcome. ‘Growing the pie’ negotiations include variables that creative negotiators use to create high perceived value for the other side at little cost to them. Thinking creatively can even allow you to turn a fixed pie into a variable one. Perhaps the asset (a motor vehicle) is fixed, but you could add variables like payment terms, advanced servicing or new tyres. The salary might be fixed, but flexibility of hours could add significant value for some candidates.
2. Know the impact
Will the outcome of this negotiation impact on any other current or possible future negotiations with the other party? You don’t want to compromise any negotiations going on now or set precedents that might disadvantage you at some time in the future.
3. Know which side is under the most time pressure
The side under the most time pressure has the greatest incentive to be flexible and may be prepared to give more as the deadline gets closer. If the other side is under the most pressure, your advantage grows daily. If the time pressure is on you, be aware this is a weakness and that if the other side becomes aware of it they will use it.
4. Know the relationship
Is this a one-off negotiation or are there likely to be future dealings? Is the relationship important to you? If the answer is yes, is it important enough for you to be more generous with your offer(s)? If the answer is no, will this change your approach and tactics?
5. Know the other side
Is their negotiation style primarily competitive or cooperative? How likely are they to try to bluff? If you haven’t negotiated with them before, is there someone else you know who has that you can talk to? Is there anything you can find out about them that they might not expect you to know? Anything you can do to compromise their confidence in their preparation is a useful tactical tool.