An effective technique in negotiations is to ask a flood of questions about every facet of your target’s position. This should be done from the outset to set a normative baseline and tone. Topics of examination should include every fact of significance, the names of anyone who will support the positions, and the identification of and details of any documents supporting the target’s claims. You should also ask for documentation supporting the target’s position, any known prior deals that are believed similar to this one, and any laws, rules, or regulations that may impact your negotiation.
Many salespeople are shy about pressing aggressively for every piece of information the target has, but this is a mistake. If you have not been exposed to the negotiating styles of other cultures, it may surprise you that research studies found this tactic common. A well-known study, for example, found that Chinese negotiators were consistently more aggressive than their Western counterparts in using negotiations as opportunities to collect information of every kind from their opposition.
A study on negotiation-based information requests (Ervin-Tripp 1976) reported multiple ways to seek what you need from your target, sometimes described as embedded imperatives (“Can you be more specific about your goals?), nonexplicit question directives (“Do you know the specific goals?”), permission (“May we hear your objectives in this deal, please?), direct imperatives (“Please tell us what the total costs of each item will be”), need statements (“We need to know how the costs break down for each item”), and hint (“We’ve tried to calculate the costs on our own because that is the information we need, but we have not been able to do so”).
Which approach you use will depend on your personal level of fortitude and aggression. Your mindset should be both of advocating your positions and collecting every relevant piece of information held by the target and pertinent to the deal.
Opposing negotiators are fond of demanding that you drop certain conditions as soon as you assert them. You never do so. You never consent to dropping or withdrawing conditions because the target says so.
(“Negotiating Strategies” by David Rosen)