Monday December 06 2021

General publication

The Importance Of Preparation In A Business Negotiation

On the eve of a major transaction, it's common to be unsure to know exactly what to think about. However, any skilled negotiator will tell you that the key to a successful business negotiation is preparation.

How should you prepare for such a transaction? It is often thought that one should focus on arguments and counterarguments. However, Professor Alain Lempereur, Professor Emeritus in the field of conciliation and bargaining, proposes a very different approach that explores preparation from three distinct angles.

Prepare for the People

The negotiation process will involve a number of individuals that might have completely different expectations towards the outcome of the meeting. The objectives, the constraints, and the level of flexibility that your boss expects of you are the first features to which you should focus your attention.

Also, a good diagnosis of the relationship between the negotiators is crucial. Knowing that, in the context of a commercial negotiation, it is often important to build trust, the past relationship between the two negotiators or even their reputations should be held in consideration in order to choose an approach that will help improve the connection. Indeed, faced with a pragmatic, power-hungry and confrontational negotiator, it will be important not to be intimidated, to know your limits and to always have a plan B, whereas when faced with an analytical negotiator, who is often an expert in his or her field and is sometimes obsessed with details, it will be necessary to determine how to go beyond the facts, how to make your reasoning logically understood and how to demonstrate that you are concerned with the other's problems.

A good understanding of the relationships between all the stakeholders is also essential. Analyzing the power relations (deference, influence, antagonism, etc.) between each one of the stakeholders can guide you towards making the right coalitions if multiple parties are involved.

Prepare for the Problems

According to numerous psychological studies, each individual and organization is motivated by certain needs, interests, or passions. The key to a successful negotiation process is finding out what the other party’s key motivators are and coming to a solution that will match their needs with your needs.

This solution, which could also involve several smaller solutions, should be realistic, feasible and concrete. People tend to focus only on the solutions that involve the other party at the table. However, knowing what other options each side can pursue, without the other side’s help, can prevent many undesirable decisions.

Prepare for the Process

Finally, you should focus on the organization of the meeting. Not only should a good negotiator identify the purpose and the objectives of the meeting, he should also identify the process and methods that he intends to set up to meet the objectives. The logistics should also be addressed since the place and environment of the meeting, the time allocation and the roles of the people at the meeting can substantially temper the process.

Information is key and it is important to prepare the right questions and to determine what information to share and not to share.

Me Emmanuel Kouzelis, lawyer

In collaboration with Sébastien Dumont, Articling Student

Alepin Gauthier Avocat Inc.

This column contains general legal information and should not replace legal advice from a lawyer or notary who will consider the specifics of your clients' situation.