Negotiation Tips

Prepare to Negotiate like a B2B Pro with these Six Steps

by Erich Rifenburgh

Six ideas for preparing for your next B2B negotiation

Negotiation is an art form—a delicate dance of strategy, communication, and finesse. Whether you're closing a business deal, discussing a salary, or navigating personal matters, mastering negotiation can significantly impact your success. But becoming a skilled negotiator requires more than quick thinking; it demands preparation, empathy, and a process.

Here are six crucial steps and negotiation tips to prepare yourself to negotiate like a pro:

1. Define Your Objectives

Before entering any negotiation, clarity about your goals is paramount. What are you aiming to achieve? Identifying your objectives will anchor your negotiation strategy. Define your ideal outcome and a realistic alternative—your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). This helps you stay focused and flexible during discussions. This first negotiation tip is crucial for identifying what you want to gain from your negotiations. 

2. Discovery, Find out what the other side wants and why. 

Knowledge is the currency of negotiation. You must dedicate time to discovering the other party's interests, needs, and potential reservations. Understanding their perspective allows you to anticipate their arguments and concerns, enabling you to tailor your approach to a mutually beneficial solution. Not many people recognize that you and your counterpart don’t necessarily want the same things. Therefore, you can likely trade to get what you want. This negotiation tip emphasizes the importance of information and how you can use it to your advantage.

3. Establish Your Negotiation Strategy

Craft a comprehensive strategy that aligns with your objectives. Determine your initial offer(s), trades you can make, and potential compromises. Consider different scenarios and anticipate counteroffers. Additionally, devise a trading plan that includes the trades and concessions you are willing to make.

4. Practice and Role Play

Negotiation skills are honed through practice. Conduct mock negotiations with a colleague or mentor to simulate real scenarios. Role-playing helps you refine your arguments, test your assumptions, and anticipate potential challenges. Solicit feedback to improve your tactics, communication style, and overall negotiation strategy. The best format for roleplaying is in a negotiations training session where you are video recorded and given expert feedback.

5. Manage Your Emotions and Build Rapport

Emotions can significantly impact negotiations. Stay composed, even when faced with challenging situations. Active listening and empathy are essential in understanding the other party's perspective and building rapport. By acknowledging their concerns and displaying empathy, you foster a collaborative environment conducive to reaching mutually beneficial agreements.

6. Adapt and Stay Flexible

Flexibility is key to successful negotiations. Be open to new information and unexpected turns. If the conversation hits an impasse, explore creative solutions or alternative options that might satisfy both parties. Remember, negotiation is about finding common ground and creating value for all involved. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck on positions. 

Putting it into Practice

Let's illustrate these negotiation tips and steps with a hypothetical scenario: negotiating a price increase for a specialty part.

Step 1: Define your objectives. Determine the desired price increase and/or additional benefits you seek.

Step 2: Research companies similar to yours that may have the capabilities to produce the same part, considering their experience and skills. Understand what your customer's alternatives are and what their switching costs might be. 

Step 3: Develop your negotiation strategy. Develop your opening position, establish your reservation price, and identify additional trades that your customer may be willing to accept in exchange for a price increase.

Step 4: Practice negotiation scenarios with a friend or mentor. Refine your pitch and responses to potential objections.

Step 5: Once you have clarity on their alternatives, approach the conversation calmly and confidently. Listen actively to their perspective and address their concerns while reinforcing your position. 

Step 6: Be open to compromises, such as making trades that are valuable to them but easy for you to give. 


Negotiation is a skill that can be cultivated and refined. You can significantly enhance your negotiation success by following these six steps and negotiation tips—defining objectives and alternatives, gathering information, strategizing, practicing, managing emotions, and staying flexible. Remember, successful negotiation isn't just about winning; it's about reaching agreements that benefit all parties involved. So, prepare diligently, communicate effectively, and negotiate like a pro!

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