“The reason we gather information is so that we can understand both sides of the process, maybe make it a little smoother and communicate that based on factual knowledge,” said Newell. “Information is the foundation of creating value and without it, it is almost impossible to establish any factual negotiating points.”
He recommended asking the following seven questions:
1) What kind of information do we want to know?
There are three types of information that Newell said are essential to find out: financial, services and operational. First, he said to find out how well the opposition is doing financially to determine if they can afford to give you a better deal. Next, learn who they currently service and what type of service(s) they provide. Last, determine how long they have been operating and their past record.
2) Where can we get this information?
A variety of sources can be helpful when gathering information, including business records, the Internet, social media platforms, employees and vendors.
3) Is there anything we can learn from previous negotiations?
Many times, a business will negotiate with the same person again and again. Newell recommended reflecting on what was negotiated, the result of the negotiation and if anything could have been done differently.
4) How much business, if any, are we doing with them?
Part of the information-gathering process is being realistic about how much business has been conducted and for how long with the other party and if it is feasible to negotiate any added-value services.
5) How well is the company doing?
Newell recommended looking at the business’s market share, growth and reputation to learn as much as possible and help formulate a negotiation strategy.
6) What don’t you want them to know about you?
IF there are issues within the business that create some exposure, Newell said to be aware of them and ensure you have the answers to address them.
7) Who is the decision-maker?
Determining and working with the decision-maker is a critical component of the process. “You need to determine if they are even capable of coming to a deal---very rarely do I negotiate with someone who can’t come to a deal,” said Newell. He also stressed the importance of negotiating at the table, face-to-face rather than by phone, email, text, social media or mail.