My late father-in-law, Walter (aka WA), was a high school dropout that became a multi-millionaire through savvy business dealings and successful negotiations. As we continue to step two of Walter’s negotiation strategy, we come to “rehearsal.” Here, you’ll define exactly what your goal is so you know what you need to rehearse.
When my now 50-something year old husband was a baby, Walter negotiated a deal to acquire some land. After spending the previous three years consistently getting kicked out of state parks while camping due to overzealous use of fireworks, it became readily apparent that the Aeschlimans needed a campground of their own.
So, Walter set out to find a campsite. The family wanted about 30 to 40 acres that were secluded, could be dammed up to build a small lake for fishing (and to fully extinguish fireworks) and, of course, were within their budget. He scoured the newspaper for months and then found what he thought would be a good fit.
He met the seller at the physical location, and although it was the first location he physically checked out, it was the perfect fit. It was the right size (about 40 acres), secluded in the middle of a federal forest and had a very small spring-fed pond that could be engineered into a small lake. They agreed on the price, and Walter signed the contract on the hood of his truck right then and there. He said of that day, “It was such a good deal I knew I needed to do it right away before someone jumped out of the trees and signed it for themselves.”
This may seem like it was an emotional decision but Walter had already done the research on it and similar properties ahead of time. It met all of his criteria, too. They dammed up the spring fed pond, built a small shelter and enjoyed years and years of camping there, never to be arrested for fireworks. Miraculously, every one of my husband’s relatives and visitors to “The 40” still have their fingers attached!
When it comes to negotiating:
- Define what you want. This doesn’t mean over-analyzing all aspects of a deal. It means doing research so you can take decisive action and know a good deal when you see it. Have a clear picture of your IDEAL outcome in mind. This isn’t the outcome you think they would agree to but your IDEAL. It doesn’t mean you will get it no matter what, but you should know what you want so you can direct the conversation towards that. You should also have in mind what you will take to settle happily. Walter always said, “Don’t be emotional. If this deal doesn’t work, there’s another deal around the corner. Don’t be emotionally tied to the deal.” Don’t prejudge what you think they’re going to think.
- Rehearse your part of the negotiation. Be prepared. Practice ahead of time what you want to say. It doesn’t mean you need to have an entire speech memorized; however, as long as you can deliver it authentically, you can have segments of what you want to impart memorized. Don’t get to the point in the conversation when your heart is in your throat and you’re just spitballing without a clear direction as to what you want to occur. If it takes you memorizing some or all of what you want to occur, then practice it. It is also beneficial to have a short list of open-ended leading questions prepared. You wouldn’t expect a brand new client to be able to do a perfect set of 100s on the first, second or even third try.
In conclusion, if you don’t prepare what you want to say ahead of time, you’re expecting perfection without preparation. Remember basketball legend John Wooden’s famous quote: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” Prepare to succeed!