In her Monday New York Times article, “Trying to Sell Your Business? Think Like a Buyer,” Barbara Taylor asks, “Why is it so difficult for business owners to put themselves in the shoes of a potential buyer?”
One of the main reasons is the vast majority of people negotiate instinctively, not strategically. In other words, they don’t systematically and comprehensively prepare for their significant negotiations based on the experts’ proven research. Instead, they prepare and negotiate in an off-the-cuff manner. So not only are they not adequately considering their counterparts’ situation, they’re not even fully exploring their own.
Negotiation research over the past 30 years has proven emphatically that negotiating strategically will improve your results. Our Five Golden Rules of Negotiation methodology includes all of the key research-based components present in significant negotiations, included understanding your counterpart’s perspective. What about your counterparts do you need to know? As a starting point, answer these questions:
1. What are your counterparts’ goals and interests?
2. What is their preferred negotiation style and what negotiation strategies have they used in the past?
3. What is their need level (how badly do they need the deal) and what is their best alternative to doing a deal with you (their Plan B)?
4. What objective criteria (like market value or precedent) will they rely on to justify their position?
Investigating and answering these questions will help you get the best deal possible.