No matter how good your research in the Preparation Stage, there are just some things that can't be discovered until you start discourse with the other side. Use the Exchange Stage to
- Get answers to your "Don't Knows".
- Verify assumptions you made.
- Learn what assumptions they have made about you and your interests that might need clarification from you.
In the Preparation Stage we emphasized keeping your "Don't Knows" and Assumptions in the proper box. Now is the time to move them from one side of the circle to the Known Facts area.
- Be ready with Probes that test your assumptions and get answers to your Don't-Knows.
Get answers to all those things that are not so easy to research in the Preparation Stage:
- Their stakeholders
- Lines of authority for the other side: You need to learn who has the authority to make decisions, and whether that person will be at the bargaining table
- Timing concerns they might have
- Their BATNAs
During the Exchange Stage you test your assumptions. Assumptions differ from person to person, from situation to situation, from negotiation to negotiation. Remember, an assumption proven true during this negotiation may not be true on the next one. People, processes, goals and incentives are dynamic.
The other side will also have made assumptions about you on which they will base their bargaining strategy. Learn their assumptions so you can correct any misconceptions.
- Your assumptions won't always keep pace with the changing business environment, so test and retest them. Over time the questions may remain the same; the answers will likely change.