Your negotiation journey - part one: the polygon of interests

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Constantin Papadopoulos is a freelance B2B marketing & sales consultant.

The following nine techniques/skills will improve the outcome of your negotiations. While these techniques are simple and effective, your negotiation success will come from applying them regularly. The best part of these techniques is that you can use them in your daily life. So let's dive into the first technique which will help you determine what your interests are in this negotiation. I first read about this technique in the Kremlin School of Negotiation by Igor Ryzov:

Building a polygon of interests in three steps

One - Define your interests

First, if your negotiation is only about price - you are bargaining. Go straight to point number #9 the Ackermann technique. Now if your negotiation spectrum is broader, clarifying your interests will be what will define your negotiation success. A rule of thumb is to use between five and seven interests that you have in reaching an agreement with a counterpart. Each interest is represented by a face of the polygon. The more faces your polygon has, the more flexible your position will be, and thus your ability to reach an agreement will be greater.

Two - Set the key metrics for each interest

Now that the interests have been set, there are three positions that you should determine for each of them: initial position, red line/reserved position, and mid-range position. The initial position is your best-case scenario. It is supported by facts and can be justified at any time. Your red line is your last offer. Below this threshold, the position becomes a bad position or a bad deal for you. Do not accept bad deals! Finally, the mid-range position is very helpful while seeking a concession. A best practice in setting your mid-range position is to have it closer to your red line rather than your initial position. Find out more about the rationale behind this trick in the ninth skill - the Ackermann technique.

Three - Start high, lower in a controlled progression

Now that you have set your interests and placed all positions, you can start the negotiation. In the first round, you do not need to state all of them. But when you do, always start at the initial position. Why? This position is fact-based and justified. If the position is perceived too high by your negotiating partner, you can lower one of your position and ask for a counterpart from your partner. The impact of this technique on your negotiation will be immediately perceivable. While some of your positions will gravitate towards the mid-range or even reach the red line, you could even get out more than your initial position on certain interests. The outcome is thus simple, if you lower a position towards a red line, you will be able to receive more on other important positions.

You find here a template to help you prepare for your next negotiation training and have your polygon of interests ready.

Note that the plan here deviates slightly from the one originally recommended by Igor Ryzov.

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