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A week may be a long time in politics, but most financial teams have been accustomed to being able to forecast and plan for the long term, making gradual adjustments as they measure their predictions against steadily developing trends. The financial crisis changed all this, causing rapid and dramatic fluctuations in most markets. Of course, buyers won't always be trying to establish a tough negotiating position to see if a price cut is on the agenda. A downturn often puts a strain on the win-win goal as the basis of long-term partnerships between customers and suppliers. The key to successful negotiation is to know how to plan for a win-win outcome and how to recognize and handle someone who is playing win-lose. Effective planning that determines possible trades and links; analyzing and managing the power balance effectively; and using a consultative negotiating style will mean that the process is not a damage-limitation exercise for either party, but a true meeting of equals and the basis for a mutually acceptable agreement.

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