Your negotiation journey – part three

A negotiation is not a one-time event. Stop thinking about that moment, at the negotiation table where everything is decided. Negotiations are a continuous process. They begin much earlier than you think and end much later than you would ever imagine. The negotiation tree helps you prepare for the what-ifs. What if they say yes immediately, what if they say no, or even worse what if they say maybe. Having gone through your negotiation tree, puts you one move ahead of your counterpart, putting you in control of the negotiation. 

The negotiation tree

What is a negotiation tree?

The negotiation tree is a concept derived from the decision tree. The Harvard Business Review already mentioned the power of decision trees in the sixties. John F. Magee, a Harvard operations researcher, described the function of the decision tree as  a tool that can clarify for management […] the choices, risks, objectives, monetary gains, and information needs involved in an investment problem.” A negotiation tree has the same function: it outlines different scenarios and helps you plan your next negotiation actions accordingly.

Why a negotiation tree?

You will read in part four of this series that acting as the host while negotiating is one of the keys to success. A good host is not in a position of need, i.e. someone who has few alternatives and is prepared for the responses of his counterpart. After having built your polygon of interests, the negotiation tree tells you to prepare for each potential reaction. Being prepared will keep you in control of your emotions and you will have your next move ready no matter the situation.

How to prepare your own negotiation tree?

There are different ways to prepare for a negotiation using a decision tree. I enjoy the one proposed by Igor Ryzov which you can find in this free template. Alternatively, you could also link your sales design or sales funnel to the techniques we are covering in this series. Determine the potential reactions based on your sales funnel. Let’s take cold emailing potential clients as an example. The negotiation tree shall help you react to their potential responses. Here is a short example:

In summary, the negotiation tree is a methodology to plan your next moves and be prepared for your counterpart’s reactions. This will not only support you in becoming the host of the negotiation., but will also enable you to raise your awareness level while negotiating. As mentioned in the first article, heightened awareness is the prerequisite for hosting negotiations.  Playing the host is the next technique we will be covering so check out this article to find out more. 

About the author

Constantin Papadopoulos is a senior marketing & sales consultant. He builds bridges between services & products and their respective audience. He is also a communication & negotiation trainer for the Swiss Army.