Seven Top Tips For Negotiating Better Contracts & Outcomes

Good negotiation skills take time to master. But get them right, and you could walk away from your talks with everything on your wishlist plus a great relationship with the other party. If you’re heading into negotiations on a contract or any other important issue, these seven top tips will help you achieve your goals.


1. Be Prepared

Before you begin negotiating anything, it’s important to thoroughly research the company and the people you’re dealing with. Try to understand their strengths and weaknesses and consider what their preferred end goal might be. Putting yourself in your counterpart’s shoes, and learning as much about them as possible, will ensure you’re well prepared for your negotiations.

2. Plan And Cost Your Variables

Every party in a negotiation is likely to have a list of ‘must haves’ and a list of things they’re willing to move on. Before negotiations begin, identify your key goals and think about which points you’re ready to be more flexible on.

Consider both the value and the cost of your wishlist for both parties. This should give you a very good idea on where you need to stick to your guns and where you can afford to give a little ground.

3. Goals

Before any real discussions take place, be clear exactly what it is you want to achieve from the negotiations and try to understand the other party’s requirements. Knowing what your goals are will help you to stay focused during the negotiations and keep your mind on the final outcome.

4. Set Your Levels

Before you begin negotiations, set your base case, or walk away point, for each of your main variables. This will give you the confidence to pull the plug if necessary and help to ensure you know your boundaries and aren’t pushed too far on any key points.

5. Common Ground

Having a positive approach will get your negotiations off to a good start and help you build rapport with the other party. Discuss all the things that you agree on – and try to link these to a common or higher purpose – before you move on to any sticking points. The more difficult aspects of your negotiations should run more smoothly if you’re all on good terms before discussions get more complicated.

6. Listen, Playback, Question

Understanding exactly what the other party is saying is crucial if you’re going to find a result that everyone is happy with. Where possible, slow down, speak less and listen more. Play their words back in your mind until you’re confident that you understand exactly where they’re coming from.

Asking questions, especially hypothetical ones, can be very effective in these scenarios. Not only do questions provide you with valuable information, they also give you an opportunity to think and digest.

7. Be Human

Though facts and money are always important, at some stage, negotiations often go beyond these tangible, quantitative factors. It’s at this point that human influence can make a huge difference. Seek to understand what’s important for the individual or group on the other side of the discussions. Try to offer a win-win situation wherever possible and make it clear that you’re keen to find an outcome all parties are happy with.

Learn more key business skills and find out how our expert team can help you prepare for your upcoming negotiation, by getting in touch with us today.


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