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How to Negotiate With a BATNA Strategy

        posted by , February 14, 2013

It's foolish to walk into negotiations without a reliable strategy.

If you're like me you'd prefer to keep negotiations simple. You're not interested in becoming a world renown diplomat, you'd just like to walk away with a fair deal.

BATNA based strategies tend to be friendly, fast and effective. They're ideal for win-win negotiations.

A BATNA based strategy is easy to execute in six steps:

1. Know Your BATNA Before You Begin Negotiations

Your BATNA is your best alternative if negotiations fail to come to an agreement.

For example, in salary negotiations your BATNA might be an offer from another employer. Alternatively, it might be to stay at your current job or to keep looking.

To arrive at your BATNA write down all your alternatives and then prioritize them.

You want your BATNA to be as realistic as possible. A BATNA isn't your goal or target. It's your baseline option.

The worst thing that can happen in negotiations is that you fail to reach an agreement and you take your BATNA option.

A BATNA calculation is no place for wishful thinking.

2. Keep Your BATNA Secret

Your BATNA is the lowest offer you're willing to accept. It's your closely guarded secret.

3.Get The Other Side Talking

When negotiations begin, establish rapport and try to get the other side talking. Asking open ended questions is one effective technique.

Collect as much information as you can from the other side.

4. Determine The Other Side's BATNA

Using the information you've collected, try to determine the other side's BATNA.

In salary negotiations, the employer's BATNA may be hiring another candidate. If you have rare skills, the employer may have few alternatives but to negotiate with you. If your skills are relatively common, the employer will be expecting to pay you within their standard salary range for the position.

5. Make An Offer

Target your offer to be worse than the other side's BATNA because you'll expect them to negotiate.

Your final offer can't be worse than than the other side's BATNA because they'll have no incentive to accept it.

If you have low confidence in your BATNA estimates for the other side use your own BATNA to make your final offer.

For example, if you're negotiating salary your BATNA may be to stay at your current job. If your current salary is $100,000 you may want to make your offer higher than that.

6. If The Other Side's Final Offer is Too Low, Reveal Your BATNA

Generally it's an advantage to keep your BATNA secret. However, if the other side sticks to an offer that's worse than your BATNA — you might need to reveal it in a final attempt to get them to raise their offer.

For example, if you're an Employer in salary negotiations for a IT Management position the candidate may insist on a salary of $140,000. However, your company never pays IT Managers any more than $100,000. You may have to reveal your salary ranges to get the candidate to lower his/her offer.

This post is part of the ongoing series of articles called how to win at negotiation.

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