When you’re getting ready to tackle a negotiation (or really, to ask for anything in this world, business related or otherwise) preparation is key.

Sure, you may be the kinda person who likes to fly by the seat of your pants. Or who thrives on the unknown and just figuring it out as you go along. More power to ya.

But as your Negotiation Coach, I recommend taking the time to plan ahead.

In my life negotiating for corporations, the prep work is intense. It can be several months of work, and 25+ pages of strategy before we’re ready to make the initial offers.

Don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be that way for you.

All of that strategy and research can be boiled down to three questions that will get you to the core of what you’re asking for. Better yet – you can do it quickly, and accurately, no matter how much experience you have.

Ready to get prepped?

Question 1: What do I want?

When reflecting on this question, it’s crucial that you get specific. For example, if your answer is “more money”, that’s nice…but too generic. How much more? As a dollar value? A percentage? Recurring payment or one-time fee?

Once you’ve got your top item detailed, generate a handful (3-5) other items that you’re going to put in the mix. The more options you create for yourself here, the more flexibility you’ll have when it comes time to actually make your ask.

Pro Tip: When asking for something, consider your ‘why’ as well. What goal is it helping you achieve? What pain point will it address? What market research or data is your target based on? All of this strengthens your negotiation toolkit.

Question 2: What do they want?

Time to pull out your crystal ball. Or if yours is on the fritz, roll-up your sleeves for some good old fashioned research and reflection. Your goal with this question is to come up with what you think the top 3-5 items are that interest the other person or company. Are they driven by financials? Flexibility? Working on a tight schedule? Answering this question increases your chances of having a proactive role in the discussions, rather than a reactive one.

Pro Tip: If you’ve worked with this client or company before, take a gander through your old notes and files to see what trends emerge when it comes to their priorities (hindsight = 20/20). If it’s a new relationship, focus on either asking within your professional network for insight, or using industry data to shape your expectations.

Question 3: How can I help them get it?

This is where the magic happens. Putting on your collaborative hat and getting creative when it comes to how you can help the ‘other guy’. It seems counter-intuitive, but shifting your focus away from your own needs will do wonders for both your relationships and outcomes. Look for ways that you can help them achieve their goals, while simultaneously achieving yours.

Pro Tip: It’s rare that, when faced with collaboration, the company or individual you’re negotiating with will respond with absolute greed. But it does happen. Make sure that you’re not offering up anything that will put a serious dent into your business achieving the targets and goals you’ve set. We’re going for win-win here.

To help you with planning for your next Big Ask I’ve created a template for you to use. It features the three questions we’ve learned about above, and space to gather your thoughts – all in a simple 1-pager. Click that button below to download!

3 Questions To Put You In The Driver’s Seat