A key point in the preparation for any negotiation is the honest answer to the question about your alternative to a negotiated outcome. Without any viable alternative you’ll be defenceless against any attempt from your counterpart, if they take a “take it or die” strategy.
From the Harvard concept of negotiation, there is the commonly used abbreviation:
⇒ Your best Alternative to a successful negotiation (deal)
The better and stronger your alternative, the better you’re off. Backed up with a strong alternative you will have a stronger attitude and you will withstand with ease when your counterpart puts a threat on you.
Here, many questions have to be answered:
– What are the alternative(s) exactly?
– How “necessary” is it for you to get a result?
– What power do you have in the negotiation?
– How do you evaluate the alternative(s)?
– Are there interdependencies?
– Is there any public pressure?
– What are the interests that make you pursue this negotiation?
– How do you define your exit points (GO Away Limit)?
– What is your personal deal breaker?
Be open and honest with your answers and evaluate each alternative with the same framework. Always think of what you will give up or lose for a successful conclusion to the negotiation.
My personal alternatives as an example:
If I get a contract, I have to give something up as I can’t do something else in the given time. And these could be my alternatives:
1. I can do further acquisitions in order to get new (better paying) customers.
2. I can invest time in marketing and PR.
3. I can write another book, and thus increase my market value.
4. I can spend time with my granddaughter.
5. I can spend time with my wife.
6. I can play sports: golf, running, gym.
7. I can finally paint the kitchen.
What I now have to answer quite honestly, is the question, where at least one of these alternatives is equal to a contract right now. If I cannot the deal, where both alternatives are equally valued, I simply say no.
If you cannot define an alternative, which is equivalent to a commercially reasonable negotiation result, then you’re facing a real problem! Step back into the preparation stage again and consider your interests and evaluate your options again.
And may be, you just have to build up an alternative for the future. It wouldn’t be there shortly, but even so, it will improve your power immediately.