Many variables impact the offer-concession stage of a negotiation. What issues to address first and when and how much to move should be considered during your strategic planning process. Here are my Top Ten rules of thumb for orchestrating the best game plan once the negotiation begins:
1. Expect, plan and insist on reciprocity of movement. Be prepared to give to get but don’t give more unless you’re getting more.
2. Say “I’m sorry. You will have to do better than that” in response to the other side’s initial offer (as many times as they will let you).
3. Start with the most critical issues on which both sides will likely agree.
4. Consider the value of momentum – the longer the negotiation lasts, the more committed both sides will feel.
5. Initial moves of less than 5 percent rarely generate meaningful moves from the other side.
6. Rarely make a larger concession than your counterpart.
7. Buyers should insist on reciprocal percentage moves; sellers should insist on reciprocal dollar moves.
8. The earlier and more often you raise an issue, the more important it will be perceived.
9. Consider limiting your authority on the most critical issues.
10. Remain flexible so you can take advantage of new strategically important information and unanticipated opportunities.
For a more comprehensive discussion of each, access the online version of my book, Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004).