In a recent webinar I spoke about the six steps to developing and executing a successful negotiation.

These are:

  • Scoping
  • Stakeholder management
  • The Impact of Power
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Completion review

Over the next three blogs I’ll take a look at these six steps in more detail.

So, first of all let’s look at scoping: what is it and why does it matter?


Step One: Scoping

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Abraham Lincoln


I love that quote from Abraham Lincoln because scoping is just that: focusing on sharpening the axe. It’s all about getting ready for the negotiation.

By scoping out a negotiation, we can avoid making expensive assumptions based upon previous experiences. It also helps us to avoid taking shortcuts, using bad habits and repeating mistakes that were made in the past.

I often find that sales managers believe that they don’t need to worry, that this negotiation will be just like the last one. The result of this is that they don’t often consider thinking about what’s going to be different.

So how does scoping out benefit our negotiation?

Scoping is all about the now, it allows us to consider new or different perspectives based upon recent internal and external changes. This then allows us to change our negotiation perspective based on the current context, both externally for the customer and internally within our own business.

Scoping also allows us to think about possible alternative outcomes, over and above what happened before. It helps us check alignment with the real objective, not what we think our objective is, or what we think their objective might be.  This enables us to prioritise our actions and sequence them in order, to optimise the outcome.

So scoping is a critical part of the negotiation process and the first link in the chain.

Let’s now move in to step two and that’s stakeholder management.


Step Two: Stakeholder Management.

In our negotiations we can often focus solely on the person sitting across the desk from us, but really we need to spend time thinking about who else needs to be involved? Who actually is the ‘power behind the throne? Is it procurement? Is it supply chain? Or is it the regional or branch managers?

We need also to consider the internal stakeholders within our own businesses. As we can often be driving towards what we think are the perceived outcomes without engaging with our own internal stakeholders. We do need to engage with them, because without doing that, we might know everything about their interests and desired outcomes which might come back to bite us as the negotiation progresses.

By engaging with the internal and external stakeholders, we can positively affect their impact on our business. This involvement needs to be planned to make sure it’s consistent, as we’re not just bringing them along because we felt they needed to be informed, they do have a role to play and they do need managing. So it’s important that it’s planned and it’s consistent.


Watch out for my next blog which will focus on the next two of the six steps to developing and executing a successful negotiation: the impact of power and the importance of planning.