Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

I recently attended a seminar in which a technology expert suggested “the mobile platform [of smart phones and tablets] will rule” much of our future activities, and he may be right. But one thing I know for certain – this technology revolution has already significantly changed how we should prepare for, engage and improve our negotiations. How?

1.      Access to strategic intelligence on our counterparts

One of the first things I do when I learn the identity of my negotiation counterpart is find out as much as I can about their backgrounds, reputations, and specific tactics they have used in the past (like who has consistently bluffed, walked out but then kept coming back, caved at the end, played good cop/bad cop, etc.).

This used tobe exceedingly difficult to discover. You had to make a lot of calls and hope you connected with several individuals who had previously negotiated with that person or company.

It’s exponentially easier to access this information today with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, corporate websites, industry association list serves, and the list goes on. And this is just the information obtainable to anyone with an internet connection.

Today you can also efficiently reach out to your personal and professional networks via email and postings in search of specific style and strategy data on your counterparts.

Organizations can also now capture this intelligence in easily accessible and searchable internal databases that can be used by any colleague who may be negotiating with that counterpart in the future.

This used to be tough and expensive. Now it’s simple and cheap – and extraordinarily valuable.

2.      Access to industry standards

When I was in law school 20 years ago and preparing for job interviews, I spent a lot of time in my law school’s career services department and library researching salaries, benefits, markets, positive and negative elements of places to live and work, legal and industry trends, and other things that factored into my negotiation with potential employers and my ultimate decision.

This took a lot of time. Today this information is usually just a few clicks away.

Many negotiations revolve around similar information and standards like market value, precedent, tradition, efficiency, costs and profits, and professional industry standards. How often have we justified a price based on its market value or because last year we did that deal at X (precedent)? It’s relatively easy to get this information today. It wasn’t 20 years ago.

3.      Free learning resources

I am amazed at the quality and volume of free online negotiation advice available today to those interested in improving their negotiation skills. Free resources where you can engage and seek negotiation advice include: my ExpertNegotiator LinkedIn Forum with over 500 members and 30 negotiation professors, Harvard’s Program on Negotiation LinkedIn Forum, many YouTube clips, negotiation experts tweeting away and, of course, a large number of websites and news articles.

Published August 6, 2011 The Arizona Republic

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