Negotiating Success Begins With An Effective RFP

Although so much of the potential success of every negotiation is dependent upon doing much homework and preliminary examination of needs, priorities, etc., we often witness negotiations proceed without a clearcut direction or goals. To approach anywhere near out optimal potential for successful negotiation, we must first clearly know what we need, want, and are trying to achieve and accomplish. Some of the essential purposes that should be addressed include: to clarify and prioritize needs and positions; to disclose and “test the waters,” to open and have an direct discussion and divulge what you are looking for; to learn/ discover the degree of flexibility that the other side may have; to control costs and get what is needed; and to clearly identify and communicate specifications, etc. The best negotiating position nearly always begins when one side presents a Request for Proposal (RFP) that informs the other party what is needed and being looked for. Doing so will both clarify and expedite the process, weeding out and eliminating parties that are totally inflexible, and thus more easily identifying the business partners that show the greatest potential for meeting what is needed.

1. It is amazing how much time is expended and wasted because needs and priorities are not clarified, identified and prioritized from the onset. When these steps are taken, it potentiates greater understanding, and often lays the groundwork for true win – win approaches to the negotiating process.

2. Never assume that the other party knows what you are looking for. While there are often many similarities, it is important to understand that each negotiation has certain unique qualities and characteristics. Therefore, the best results generally occur when, early on in the process, each side indicates what it needs and wants, and the focus is on obtaining a meeting of the minds that both parties are satisfied with.

3. Many inexperienced negotiators often tend to try to “hide” their weaknesses, and therefore provide far less information than is needed to accomplish what is necessary. The best approach is to seek a solution where both sides benefit, where potential cost savings are discovered and passed on, and both parties needs are achieved. Great negotiating means having open discussions and clearly divulging what you are looking for. Remember, the other side cannot “read your mind.”

4. It is important to neither overestimate or underestimate the degree of flexibility that the other side possesses. There is almost always some degree of “give,” but the wisest negotiators are the ones that spend the time, listen effectively, and pay attention to where they can “push” more, and where to slow down.

5. Great negotiating has an objective controlling and knowing costs, while achieving what is needed. It requires seeking alternatives, and being flexible in approach.

6. However, there is no conclusion to any successful negotiations unless each side fully understands the specifications and details that are needed.

Successful negotiating is a step – by – step process. Only when both sides commit to getting something accomplished where both sides feel they have won, and are satisfied, does it accomplish what it should!