Company Doctor – Successful negotiating starts with preparation

Successful negotiators constantly work at improving their preparation, organization and execution skills. By just using the acronym “EDGE,” you can improve your negotiating outcomes.

Let’s review how each letter of the acronym can contribute to a successful negotiation outcome.

E….Educate yourself about the opposition and their interests.

Research the company or individual you will be negotiating with. Use Google, Ask or other search engines to get the latest information on the organization or individual’s activities.

Review the history of the relationship. What was the content of the last contact? What was the result of the last negotiation? 

Were there any problems with implementation? Have any bridges been burned and can they be rebuilt?

Assemble a two column list on a single piece of paper with your interests and those of your negotiating partner side by side.

Look for matching interests and use them as the starting point for the negotiation.

D….Develop your BATNA, WATNA & ZOPA.

Your BATNA is your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. These are the other deals that are available to you. You need to have at least one BATNA prior to starting you negotiation.

You need to know your WATNA, your Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. This prevents you from agreeing to a deal that is not acceptable, one that you must live with. This is the wrong end of your ZOPA.

Your ZOPA is the Zone of Potential Agreement. You want a deal that falls within the middle section of your ZOPA. Eight percent of all negotiations are settled in this section of the ZOPA.

G….Gather the necessary data to support your interests in the negotiation.

Information is the most powerful and effective tool in a negotiation,

especially when dealing with a difficult personality. Have data assembled that supports your interests and defuses their arguments.

Gather all the pertinent information and statistics that will support your view of the situation. Make sure your data is current.

In many cases the data you need is found in your own company records. For example, quality statistics, delivery timeframes and customer service correspondence can form the basis of your negotiation. 

Consult with experts when possible. Expert power is a subset of information power and is a powerful tool used to persuade your opponent that your data should form the basis of the agreement.

E….Execute your plan and then evaluate your performance.

Plan your negotiation, assemble an agenda that details who will be responsible for presenting each side’s interests. Assign timeframes to each person’s presentation.

Publish the agenda in advance of the meeting and ask for commentary. By publishing the agenda you publicly commit each participant to being prepared for the meeting. By asking for feedback, you can adjust the agenda to meet the needs of both parties.

Have an opening statement prepared, which articulates your interests and demonstrates an understanding of the content of the negotiation.

Prioritize your interests. People expect concessions. Have some identified and be ready to offer them in order to achieve your negotiating goals.

Link any concession that you offer to an interest that you need satisfied. All negotiations involve give and take.

Review your two column list and see if any of your interests have not been satisfied.

Summarize the results of the negotiation and ask your negotiating partner if there are any unsatisfied interests.

Address any open issues and ask for feedback from your negotiating partner on how to resolve them.

By using the “EDGE,” you can approach your next negotiation with a renewed level of confidence, a higher level of preparation and knowledge of the issues and insights into strategies that will permit you to reach your negotiating goals.


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