Preparation is vital in any negotiation. We say it all the time, but we wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. If you don’t prepare, you’re missing out on the opportunity to be in control of the negotiation. If you have prepared for all the possible scenarios, you will have the confidence to negotiate the best deal possible.

One great way to prepare is through precedents. They can be common steps or shrewd maneuvers, logical decisions or risky bets, strategies or strokes of luck, prompt or last-minute adjustments, great achievements or simple mistakes from the arc of your career, from other people, or even from the grand stage of history itself. Analyzing the past with an objective microscope can help shape your preparation for your present endeavor. History has a tendency to repeat itself, so you might as well take advantage of what has taken place before.

One example of using precedents could be if a competitor is undercutting your prices for a service or product. Because dropping your price is not an alternative, you look for transactions in which you or others have successfully warded of pricing challenges. You uncover instances in which your competitor failed to meet promised distribution times, a factor important to your customers. You make guaranteed delivery dates a key part of your deals instead of reducing prices. Your customers are convinced and you fight off the pricing threat.

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