Learning About Your Counterparty in Negotiations

Learning About Your Counterparty in Negotiations

Learning About Your Counterparty in Negotiations

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For some negotiators, the counterparty is a mysterious entity, prone to unpredictable demands and whims. But more successful negotiators enter talks knowing as much as possible about their counterparty, Then, they actively work during negotiations to learn even more. Knowledgeable negotiators a better path toward successful outcomes.

Perform Research Beforehand

Performing thorough research before you even approach vendors is a way to both narrow down your options and learn more about any parties you enter negotiations with. For instance, it's advisable to check up on a vendor's reputation. Potential sources here include reviews from other businesses, industry publications, and your network. This way you may be able to avoid entering negotiations with a disreputable vendor entirely, thus saving time and letting you focus on better candidates.  

As another form of research, you can also ask for initial bids from multiple vendors. Investigate their production methods, too. You may find that a vendor's risky material-acquisition process introduces too much potential for unreliability.

Go in Prepared With Questions

Going in prepared with questions to ask will make you less likely to miss a detail. As an example of this tactic in action, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends asking vendors about their shipping options, reach, and processing times as well as minimum order sizes. You can also ask about contracts the vendor has with other businesses: Perhaps another of the vendor's clients has a perk in their contract that would help your business as well. Questions like these may reveal options that wouldn't have come to the surface otherwise.

Embrace Skepticism

Skepticism can help you learn about your counterparty's true nature. For instance, if your counterparty acts offended to a disproportionate degree, keep in mind that they may just be feigning offense to make you uncomfortable — and more likely to fold. False claims can come in many other forms, too, including exaggerated numbers and fake deadlines. Research can help you figure out what's real and what's not, as can careful questions during the negotiations. If you surmise that a claim is false, you can disregard it instead of being shaken, and if you determine that a claim is likely true, then you'll still have more information to work with than you did before.

Present a Sleek Contract

No matter who your counterparty is, you can improve your negotiations with them by adhering to good contract presentation principles. Contracts set expectations for the agreement you and your counterparty are entering into, which means discussing the contract is a great way to learn about what your counterparty wants and what they can offer you. Having a contract in writing — even a preliminary draft — can open discussions on terms like timelines and compensation. To that end, converting your file from JPG to PDF can help you present a professional-looking document.

Knowing Who's Across the Table

You can learn much about your counterparty by researching, asking questions, trusting your skeptical instincts, and using a contract as a discussion-fostering tool. That way, you'll become more knowledgeable about who you're dealing with, what they want, and what they can give.

To find more support for your business, join your local chamber of commerce.