Knowing What You Want is the First Step Towards Achieving It

From asking for an extra half hour on your video game as a child to deciding whose turn it is to do the dishes, negotiating is a part of life. In most situations you don’t have time to consider every outcome, you just focus on your perfect solution and work out a compromise if you can’t achieve it. 

However, unlike everyday life, there is often a lot at stake when negotiating a sales contract so it pays to take the time to build a clear picture of the possible outcomes and your willingness to accept them. 

How to Set Clear Goals

  • Identify your most desired outcome. Known as an MDO, this is what you would consider the best possible outcome from negotiations, where you attain everything you set out to achieve. This should however be realistic; it should include everything you want, but you must be able to defend it. If your MDO is too aggressive it is unlikely to be achieved and there’s a good chance the negotiations will fail. That being said, if maintaining the relationship is not a priority because you have more than one potential partner it may be worth pushing harder for what you want.

  • Next, consider your goal. Your goal is different from your MDO in that it is not your perfect solution but an outcome that benefits both parties and you are willing to accept. Your goal should be measurable, likely to happen, and easy to achieve. 

Consider the Alternatives

As well as considering the positive outcomes, it is equally important to consider the less perfect potential outcomes. Knowing your walk-away point will ensure you don’t accept a bad deal.

  • Identify your least acceptable alternative. An LAA is the deal that meets your minimum requirements and is therefore still worth taking rather than walking away. This is a more positive term than the bottom line because some of your interests are still being satisfied.

  • Plan your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Not every negotiation will end in a deal, and that's OK; no deal at all is better than a bad deal. In this case, it’s important to have an alternative that you are able and willing to turn to. Having a well-thought-out BATNA is a powerful tool during negotiation but should not be used aggressively. Find a way to let the other party know you have one without using it as a threat.

Keep Everything Looking Professional

Just like setting clear goals, contract presentation is also a useful tool in negotiations. A good-looking and detailed contract will impress the other party and set you up for positive negotiations. Don’t forget to convert JPG to PDF to keep your contract looking neat and tidy.

Adapt Without Compromising

Setting clear goals increases your likelihood of achieving a positive outcome that benefits both sides. Adaptation and flexibility are key in negotiations, but having clear objectives before you start ensures you will never compromise your company’s values or feel pressured into accepting a bad deal.

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