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Rule Number 2 Negotiations are won in the planning, preparation and rehearsal, not at the table.

In our experience, only one third of the delegates attending our programmes spend more than one hour planning, preparing and rehearsing for a negotiation. Often this is done in a café, taxi or train en-route to a customer, or in a rushed pre-meeting, which is prone to regular interruptions, just prior to a key meeting with a supplier!

"Fail to plan – and plan to fail" is the old adage. So, you will not be surprised that we find this wholly inadequate. The outcome of any negotiation is directly related to the amount of Planning, Preparation and Rehearsal (PPR) conducted by the involved parties. The party that has allocated adequate time to do the PPR will always outperform the party that has not. So, do you spend enough time in PPR? Do you know how to use this time effectively?

Preparation is about analysis and research; your position, the other party’s position and the market conditions. It is, if you like, the ‘What?’ of the negotiation.

Planning is the 'How?'' of the negotiation. This where you devise your strategy, plans and tactics. It is also where contingency planning is done so that all eventualities are explored and planned for.

Rehearsals are vital to ensure that words, tone and body language are in sync, and to build confidence and spirit. These are essential ingredients to a successful negotiation and are often the pieces where it breaks down. We have found that the right attitude towards negotiations is the main difference between successful and unsuccessful negotiators. Getting into the right frame of mind before you begin should also be part of your preparation plan. For example, much time can be spent in developing the right words for an opening statement, but if it is not delivered authentically and effectively, the time has really been wasted.

Our blue-print for success shows that at least three to four times the duration of the negotiation meeting should be allocated to PPR. This is then broken down into negotiation preparation (our own situation as well as the other party’s), negotiation planning and rehearsal. This diagrammatic helps to show the time breakdown.

Finally, 7 out of 10 people believe that they had under-prepared for their last negotiation and would have produced a better outcome if they had spent more time on PPR. We think that speaks volumes!

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