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3 Apr 2014

The Sun Tzu Way to Negotiate Successfully

By applying Sun Tzu Art of War's 5 Elements of 道天地将法, we can improve our negotiation easily in this order as follows:
  1. Purpose 道: The purpose of your negotiation is not to get the best deal for yourself, nor is it to squeeze your customer or supplier.  Sun Tzu said the highest ground shall be your purpose, so in business our purpose of negotiating is to have a long term win-win relationship.  Because if we are only interested in one-off deal, we don't need to negotiate, we just adopt a 'take it or leave it' attitude.  
  2. Boundaries 天: Know your boundaries, i.e. your limits, what you can give and what are absolutely non-negotiable, like your integrity.  
  3. Details 地: The devil is in the details, never leave details to another day, for it is only at the negotiation table that you have the opportunity to get what you want, including the details. Always minute down the details for you cannot rely on faint memory. 
  4. Lead 将.  Yes, you have to lead the negotiation and the best way to do so is through questions.  This is because every time you ask a question, the other person has to put down what he is doing and give you a moment.  They have to respond with an answer or be silent. Of course the smart ones would answer your question with a question, but you too can ask another question to take back the lead.
  5. Execution 法.  Negotiation is about execution, so at the negotiation table you must sort out the major execution issues, especially the first few steps.  Also, if people don't execute what is agreed at the negotiation, you should insist on your right or ask for another negotiation to execute the earlier negotiation.
By Andy Ng, whose course on Sales Negotiation Success has now travelled to outside Singapore.  For details of our other courses, click here.  Related articles on sales, communication and negotiation include:

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