A close friend of mine, not so long ago, requested me for support in special negotiations knowing my experience troughout the years in this field.
So like in every negotiation I have participated, the Preparation of the negotiation is so important like the negotiation itself. You need to know who is going to be your partner, weaknesses and strengths, facts, etc.. important your target. What do you want? what are you willing to achieve and what would you give in in order to achieve it?
Since this negotiation was personal and a quite special, I wanted to look for different approaches and look at some books I have read to refresh my head. It is important that you consider that Every negotiation is different, and therefore has to be prepared and performed different. I always compare it to Shakespeare plays, you cannot play the same role always ! And important, listen to your partner and let them speak, never be aggressive, make them feel comfortable.
Have you thought Where is the place for negotiating ? This is totally an opinion: Personal negotiations are always better to be done in a relaxed dinner or a nice atmosphere, because there is a lot of sentimental emotions behind and they appear more in a cosy ambient. But working negotiations always do it in a cold office rooms, where it is you and the company, do not alter the fact of who pays, how much wine I have drunk, do I speak too much, etc.. Some exceptions are big businesses where you know your partner for years and want to influence this person with a nice dinner. I have seen incredible deals on my table next to me in nice restaurants, going very personal behind. But I personally don’t do it.
Negotiating is older than the world, so I recommend to have a look at generalities and basics from negotiation. My favourite book is “The essential Negotiation” by Gavin Kennedy published by The Economist.
From this book I take two big recommendations (among others) for any negotiation:
– Do not limit yourself: How many times I have entered a room thinking my big monopole partner will not give in and then I started the meeting, look at their faces and think “I win today”. Don’t take for granted anything from your negotiating partner. Maybe you think your proposal is against your partner needs/purposes and is totally opposite. You don’t know the other one situation, or do you?. The fact of the company situation, big/small, or its situation customer/supplier, market leader/small company does not give the result of the negotiation. Please re-read this sentence again.
– Negotiations are based in a win to win, I have a lot of experience in the supplier quality area in automotive. In this field, it is quite easy as a customer to cross the line and “abuse” from your supplier and impose your conditions. But if you cross the border to which the supplier does not win anything, in the end you lose. You can lose the supplier contract due to abusive conditions or simply get to a point where the supplier does not pick up the phone, which is worst. Long term relations in automotive and any industry are important.
Back to my friend negotiation, I remember telling : “One thing important before you sit down with your partner is the following: you have a very complicated situation to solve. How many rounds are you going to do? prepare it!”. Some negotiations include rounds because they are very emotional or politically related. Sometimes you need an achievement but you know for sure you they take rounds for a better solution. I remember a purchasing situation with a very conflictive supplier in the verge of going legal and involving many departments and I had to take the lead. I knew this was going to be long, but I convinced myself to close the issues before the end of the year and make weekly conferences for the purpose). No matter the longer it takes as long as the result is good for the company. Think about your own time limits for the negotiation.
If you have time in some conflictive situations and complicated negotiations with many issues over the table. Start unblocking small issues, give your partner a “candy” to enjoy today unlocking one issue that he/she gains and tomorrow for you the “candy”. Remember win2win and always put you a deadline. This rounds also allow you to stop negotiations if your partner takes too much advantage or you need information/time to analyse situation and come back.
I told my friend also: “have you prepared your BATNA ?“… “Yes your Best Alternative to a negotiated agreement”.It is a mistake to think that always I enter a negotiation I am going to get 100% my demands, I mean congratulations if you do it, but if any of your demands affect your partner, be ready for a worst case scenario. Prepare a last offer that is good for both companies and you can come back home successful. This is the typical joker card that you take out of the pocket if things go bad. But it happens sometimes, But even in Barcelona rains in summer sometimes!! don’t ever do any improvisation in a difficult negotiation. You have the risk your opponent sees that in your face.
Another recommendation is… where are your negotiating partners from? . Cultural aspects do matter. obviously respect your partner cultural differences. Germans in general like things directly to the point, but asian do not. Don’t try with a chinese to close immediately the deal. You will continue talking and after half an hour he/she will come back to the point and open it again (very good technique I use a lot when I disagree with my partner). So don’t take again for granted the result of the negotiation depending on what is happening in the meeting, just be aware of it and use your cards.
My recommendation is very clear. Investigate the cultural negotiation specific issues, respect cultural behaviours always, listen to the others and respect them, and just be aware of their techniques.
Remember always to close with an agreement any negotiation. Important in the end to mention “summarizing our conversation today….” or “let me resume the points discussed today”. In some quality issues for example, I strongly recommend a meeting minutes note written there and signed at the moment by both partners. So this is it, now you’re ready to negotiate !!
Summarizing my points in this post for a negotiation are:
Preparation of the negotiation
Every negotiation is different
Where is the place for negotiating ?
Do not limit yourself.
Negotiations are based in a win to win
How many rounds
Think about your time limits for the negotiation.
Have you prepared your BATNA ?
where are your negotiating partners from?
Close with an agreement