Negotiating a Translation Contract – How Powerful is Your BATNA?

“But what on earth is a BATNA?” Maybe you are asking this question. Don’t worry, we’re here to answer that 🙂

Let’s try our good friends at Wikipedia.

This is what they say: In negotiation theory, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or BATNA is the course of action that will be taken by a party if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached.

If the current negotiations are giving you less value than your BATNA, there is no point in proceeding. Prior to the start of negotiations, the parties should have ascertained their own individual BATNAs.”

Not clear enough? Let’s ask Penelope Trunk

“You are in a great position if you have something to leverage, like, another person willing to give you the same type of deal. This is called your BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement). But in most cases, one party has an especially terrible BATNA.” Read the whole article and also closely study Penelope’s blog for some more golden nuggets

Let’s apply this to translation services. For example, you’re negotiating a juicy translation contract. You have another 3 prospective clients who are willing to give you similar terms. If this client becomes difficult, you always have something to fall back on. You have a powerful BATNA. Now, you have also persuaded all your 4 prospective clients that you are “not merely the best of the best, but the only ones who does what you do”. So, your counterparties‘ BATNA is pretty lousy. Maybe you should think of raising your rates 🙂

You want a still better understanding of BATNA, OK, here’s another article (S-w-i-n-g Your BATNA)

Some highlights: “When you have a strong alternative solution to a lousy proposal, you have leverage to build a more potent proposal. If not, then you can turn to your best alternative solution. A strong BATNA is like a warm, fuzzy insurance policy. A strong alternative provides you with two possibilities. Either you settle an agreement with more favourable terms, or you have the option to simply say, ‘No deal!’

BATNA … is a two fold process. First, you have to determine all your available options. Then, you just also realistically estimate your counterparty‘s alternatives. Each is equally important. Otherwise, it will be impossible to gauge the strength of your best alternative in relation to their best alternative.

Your plan should be a flexible approach. Circumstances can alter rapidly. A sudden shift in conditions can immediately affect the strength of either parties BATNA during the negotiation process.” Click here to read the whole article

Quotes from our upcoming book (The Insider Guide to the Strategic Marketing of Translation Services, aka IG – BTW, if you want to be the First to Know when it come out, all you have to do is sign up for the Translator Power Mailing list):

1. Make sure you don’t come across as “needy”. Don’t speak and/or behave in a way that makes your prospect believe you are desperate for work. If your prospect thinks you need them more than they need you, you’re lost! (IG p.17) Don’t show your prospect you have a weak BATNA!

2. Jerry Garcia: “We do not merely want to be the best of the best, we want to be the only ones who do what we do” quoted by Tom Peters (see IG p. 24 and 28) (This is how you inflate your BATNA in the eyes of your prospective client!)

All this boils down to the age-old couple: “Know yourself” and “Know your ‘enemy'” You know Sun Tzu, don’t you 🙂 (OK, just Google the Old Man, if you don’t!)

In negotiations, “enemy” is called “counterparty”, as you may have guessed

Beef up your bargaining position!

Brace up your BATNA!

Carefully study your counterparty to discover their BATNA and quickly put yourself in a position to neutralize it!

And, by the way, do you know BATNA is also the name of a town in Algeria, North Africa 🙂


P.S. We have turned the free 7-Part PR ecourse into a free downloadable PDF and all you have to do is visit this link and instantly download it!


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About translatorpower

The Cross-cultural Connector, The Global Mindset Advocate
This entry was posted in Amsall, bargaining position, BATNA, contract, counterparty, IG, Insider Guide to the Strategic Marketing of Translation, Penelope Trunk, translation, Translator Power. Bookmark the permalink.

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