The Basics: The 3 Phases of Negotiation

    Negotiations form the foundation of any successful business interaction, and the impact of an effective negotiation extends far beyond the conclusion of the original deal. A negotiation conducted in a courteous, professional manner that results in a mutually beneficial outcome can be endlessly valuable. It not only allows both parties to achieve their objectives in the present agreement, but it also instills trust and confidence that encourages the development of long-term business relationships. 

    At Shapiro Negotiations, our negotiation training rests on what we refer to as “The 3 Ps,” a strategic approach that consists of thoroughly preparing before the start of a negotiation, carefully probing for information during the negotiation, and developing the highest quality proposals after both parties reach an agreement.


    Any successful negotiation process begins far before the two parties meet at the negotiating table. To properly prepare for an upcoming negotiation, you should conduct comprehensive research on your negotiating partner. Ascertain their values and current needs by reviewing the information available through their website, press releases, or articles concerning their business activities. Learn about similar deals they have completed in the past, the specific terms outlined in these deals, and their commitment to adhering to the terms. Consider the products or services offered by competitors and how they compare to those of your negotiating partner. 

    Closely analyze the information you gather to determine the dynamics of the deal, including the financial or timing constraints faced by the other party, the objectives they seek to achieve, the alternatives available to them, and who stands to benefit most from this agreement. This will dictate who holds the most leverage in the deal, helping you choose the wisest approach and establish realistic objectives for the outcome of the negotiation. Finally, before scheduling your meeting, take time to identify the appropriate individual to whom you should be speaking. Only deal with someone holding the authority to make final decisions and agree to concessions.

    Probe (and Listen)

    When negotiations begin, the two most important tactics you must take to ensure a successful outcome are to strategically probe the other party for information and actively listen to their responses. The more information you can obtain, the better your leverage and the more control you will ultimately hold over the negotiation. Ask open-ended questions to extract useful information from the other party, especially concerning their goals, priorities, challenges, and solutions. These answers will inform your negotiation strategy and often lead to other questions that offer further opportunities for learning about any aspects crucial to reaching an agreeable conclusion.

    Master negotiators know that truly listening does not equal patiently waiting for your turn to talk but providing your full attention to focusing intently on the information the other party shares. It is not sufficient to simply hear the words – you must practice active listening, observing both verbal and nonverbal cues to accurately analyze the message. Along with the words they use, other cues, including tone of voice, eye contact, and body language, may be used to uncover any implied meaning behind certain statements. This allows you to collect as much information as possible and probe even further with revealing follow-up questions.


    When the time comes to submit your proposal, you must consider the information you have learned through the preparation and probe stages of the process to strategically approach the situation. If both parties share equal knowledge of the market, it is in your best interest to make the initial offer. You benefit from a psychological bias known as the anchoring effect, in which the first figure a person is presented with primes them to continue negotiations around the originally proposed figure. If the other party seems unfamiliar with the market, giving them the chance to make the initial offer can save you substantially. 

    Never accept the first offer, even if it’s a favorable deal, but provide a reasonable counteroffer that does not aim too low or too high. The other party will either accept the offer, reject it, or counter with their own terms. Know how to handle rejection and navigate the negotiation to the best outcome. Avoid ranges when discussing figures and refuse to split the difference. 

    Schedule Negotiation Training for Your Team Today

    For more than twenty years, Shapiro Negotiations has provided businesses of all industries with negotiation training that teaches essential skills for conducting successful negotiations. Our strategic approach is founded on scientific knowledge, backed by decades of experience, and implemented using interactive methods with proven results. Under our guidance, your team will receive world-class instruction with one-on-one coaching and facilitated practice to strengthen their skillset and prepare them for future negotiations.

    To learn more about how our negotiation training can improve your business, contact us today online, call (410) 662-4764, or email [email protected].


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