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Setting objectives for a negotiation 

Preparing for a negotiation is as important as the negotiation itself. One of the critical components of preparation is objective setting for a negotiation. By clearly identifying what you are trying to achieve, you can walk into the negotiation knowing what good looks like and what you will and won’t be willing to concede.  


How to set an objective for a negotiation 

An objective can start off as a simple 3 tier structure: 

  1. What would be a great outcome for the business? 
  1. What would be a good outcome for the business? 
  1. What would be the minimum outcome you would be willing to accept? 

With these three levels to your objective, you have direction and a range. But what about your counterpart? What about “the person you will be negotiating with”? An effective negotiator also thinks about the other party.  

  1. What would be a great outcome for them? 
  1. What would be a good outcome for them? 
  1. What would be the minimum outcome they would be willing to accept? 

By anticipating the other party’s objectives, you can consider both sides of the negotiation. 


Negotiation is a two-way street 

When dealing with customers on an ongoing basis, delivering mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties is paramount.  

Often negotiations fail because of resistance from the other party not being handled well. Taking the time to prepare for the negotiation process and researching all key stakeholders with a direct or indirect impact, can make a significant difference to the outcome. 

Make it a part of your preparation to gather as much information through considering the following:  

  • Who are the people you will be negotiating with?  
  • What are their needs? 
  • How can you help them achieve these needs whilst meeting your objectives? 
  • What is important to the company you will be negotiating with? 

If you can gain understanding of the external influencing factors in the negotiation, you can identify and create win-win solutions for each of the three levels of outcomes mentioned above. A qualifying table like the one pictured below can be beneficial when dealing with larger or more critical negotiations. 


Stakeholder Name 

Impact on Result (Out of 10) 

Stakeholder Role 


J Bloggs

8  Senior Manager  Expansion into US 

M Arty 


Technical Assessor  Certification issues 
I Gloo 


Legal Approver 

Patent approval 


Negotiation is an acquired skill that takes training and practice. Employing research into the three levels of objectives outlined above, form the base of a mutually successful negotiation. 

It might seem time consuming and complex, however it will be immensely helpful and will empower negotiators with the ability to anticipate risks, present solutions, and ultimately identify the point where a bilateral agreement, to your advantage, is possible.