Top ten negotiation tips

1. Be clear about what you need to achieve and why. Write this down to keep you “on message” during the negotiation. By also thinking about why you are aiming for particular points you can properly assess the impact of any counter proposals made by the other party.

2. Analyse your other options if this deal were not to go through. What would the next best option look like? There is always another option even if it means delaying projects or substantial changes to the business plan. Write this down in detail and take it with you to the negotiation as a guide: if the deal on the table becomes less attractive than the next best option it is time to walk away.

3. Take some time to consider what the other party is looking for in the deal. What makes you attractive to them? What are their other options? This helps you develop an appropriate negotiating strategy and decide on the value of any concessions you may want to make ie if a point is very important to the other party you can ask for a lot in return even if it does not seem that valuable to you.

4. Avoid negotiating alone. If there are at least two of you at the meeting one can be listening and watching body language while the other speaks. It is also very difficult to keep on top of everything yourself no matter how good your preparation and notes. This way you avoid forgetting anything and have someone with whom to discuss unexpected developments.

5. Make notes on each point agreed or set aside for later discussion as you go along so that nothing is overlooked.

6. Provide a consistent rationale for each of your requests. Giving a reason allows the other party to come up with potentially attractive alternatives if your initial request does not work for them but you must ensure your arguments are consistent or you lose credibility.

7. Don’t be shy about taking breaks to talk through proposals with your colleagues or to obtain further information or authorisation from those who are not present.

8. If you do not feel the other party understands some of your points let another member of the team take over the talking – sometimes another way of putting a point will make the difference.

9. Impasse is normal! There are a number of solutions; for example, you can set aside a point for later, look again at the underlying assumptions, consider how others have addressed this issue, or let other members of the team explore it separately.

10. Always leave the door open whether for this deal or a future relationship. If you do not reach an agreement try to close the meeting on friendly terms. If appropriate reiterate what has been agreed and what is outstanding and agree on the next steps for further discussion.


Patricia Barclay
Founder of Bonaccord
and a former international pharmaceutical GC.
Contact: 0131 202 6527