negotiation skillsDefine value, win credibility and respect at the negotiation table. Learn the key negotiation skills, including how to generate winning conditions, regardless of what is being negotiated, or with whom.

Below, you will find blog posts with insights into effective negotiation skills. And for a much more thorough discussion of negotiation skills, download our complimentary whitepaper “Negotiation Games: Spotting and Neutralizing Five Tactics that can Damage Deals”

Break Four Bad Listening Habits to Become a More Skilled Negotiator

Completing a winning deal, while maintaining positive relationships, depends largely on your ability to gather as much information as possible about the other side, including their market position, motivations, and goals. This holds true at the personal, departmental, and organizational levels. Better and more complete information can lead to a finely tuned value argument and increased credibility, both of which mean greater leverage that will help you close and achieve positive relationships.

Behind-the-scenes research with your team as you prepare to negotiate is a vital aspect of information gathering; the rest is gleaned from how you engage the other side in conversation. This may seem almost too basic to mention, but we are still surprised to see many seasoned professionals who don’t listen properly and thus fail to gather valuable information from conversations with potential vendors, customers, or partners.

A majority of us have poor listening habits that can be overcome with training and practice. Following are four such listening habits that lessen the effectiveness of otherwise good negotiators:

Pseudo-listening occurs when you only go through the motions of listening. You appear to be present, but your mind is miles away. Consciously correct this error by really focusing on what the speaker is saying. Recognize when distracting thoughts arise (like the urge to look at your iPhone) and train yourself to quickly get your mind back in focus. It’s often a good idea to repeat what the person said to make sure you capture not only the content but also the context. Asking the speaker to repeat what they said can also achieve this, but make sure you are not giving the impression that you weren’t listening in the first place.

Self-centered listening: Do you ever mentally rehearse your answer while the other person is still speaking? This is a form of self-centered listening: concentrating on your own response rather than on the speaker’s words. In that process you are likely to miss something important that would improve any response you are likely to give. Remember that a good listener usually beats a good talker when it comes to making a better impression.

Correct this listening fault by focusing completely on what is being said, allowing time to let the other person complete their thought—then begin to frame your answer. (This is a difficult habit to overcome, but it is crucial to a successful negotiation.)

Listening with a hidden agenda: This habit is closely related to self-centered listening. It occurs when you are so focused on your own agenda/objective, that you fail to fully understand what is on the mind of the person speaking. We’ve all been victims of the agenda-driven salesperson who discounts whatever we say and pushes forward with the sole objective of closing the sale. You feel repelled by such a strategy and so will your prospect when the position is reversed.

Selective listening happens when we listen only to those parts of a message that directly concern us—or what we think directly concerns us. One example of this is letting your mind drift until you hear your name, the name of your company, or something specific to the concerns you brought to the negotiating table. Selective listening often happens when we are multi-tasking; such as when someone is on the phone or a video call while simultaneously browsing on their computer. You will be a far more effective negotiator if you listen to the entire message because you will get the context of all that your counterpart says, rather than just bits and pieces.

To summarize, superior listeners capture subtle information that helps them better understand the other side’s objections, challenges and motivations, i.e., the context for what they are trying to achieve. By overcoming bad listening habits and practicing the skills covered in this article, they earn trust and credibility during the entire negotiation process. Better listening will make you a more effective negotiator. So, recognize and eliminate the four bad habits and watch your results consistently improve.

Three Essential Negotiation Do’s and Don’ts

During our conversation on the Sales Reinvented podcast, host Paul Watts asked me what I considered to be the three most essential do’s and don’ts of sales negotiations. After 30+ years negotiating and writing books and articles about sales negotiation strategies, narrowing the list of negotiation opportunities and pitfalls down to three was a tough challenge.

Following are the three that first came to mind as I spoke with Paul, and upon reflection, they hold up as crucial to negotiation success. They are important because they relate to credibility (for both you and the company you represent) and your ability to accomplish the mission (e.g. making the sale), while creating and preserving a relationship that will get stronger over time. Practicing these common-sense approaches will always serve you and your team well.

  1. DO Listen more and talk less. Many sales reps are type-A personalities who are impatient and love to talk. Traditional thinking involves convincing the sales prospect through the power of your arguments. However, to be a successful sales negotiator, you must understand your customer and you cannot do so unless you listen well. Listening and patience demonstrate curiosity and compassion, and enable you to gather the information necessary to anchor your value proposition in the customer’s context.

    To improve in this area, purposefully slow your pace, talk less, and ensure that you understand what you hear from the customer. Then, if you politely repeat what they said, you will demonstrate that you care. Realize that you will always have the opportunity to make your value argument at some point. But first and foremost, you want your counterpart to feel heard and understood. Then their own willingness to listen to your value proposition increases.

  2. DO Prepare and plan — do not “wing it.” This is where agenda management comes into play. Even if you have limited time, you must use that time to prepare efficiently. In fact, when you lack time, it is more important to manage the agenda, yet we find that one of the first things to suffer when people are under time pressure is agenda management. This is the sales version of the famous Abraham Lincoln quote: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The time you take to prepare will not be lost on the customer, and will enhance your credibility, as most customers will understand that you have done so despite a shortage of time.

    The opposite is true if you attend calls or meetings unprepared. It’s the equivalent of a pilot flying a new plane without simulator training. In dealmaking, while the consequence may not be life threatening, the result is damaged credibility and lost opportunity.

  3. DO NOT make arbitrary concessions. This means that you should not automatically concede to a request just because a customer asks, even if, theoretically you can make that concession. First, listen and ask clarifying questions (see point 1 above). Responding too quickly can be detrimental to one’s credibility and prolong the process. Instead, we should engage in a process where the moves we make have credible business rationales that the customer understands. We call this a principled concession process. This is the opposite of unprincipled concessions which can occur when a concession appears arbitrary – such as a discount given just because the customer asks (or, as we have sometimes seen, even without a customer asking).

    Unprincipled or arbitrary concessions can seriously damage your credibility. This is a negotiation inflection point and the way you react can keep the process on a path to success or one headed for failure. Customers, especially procurement organizations, make concession requests for a variety of reasons that include competitive pressures (yours and theirs) and other credible business reasons, as well as testing your resolve. If you make concessions where the business rationale is unclear such a concession will seem arbitrary, and the customer is likely to feel that you have more to give or lack resolve, either of which leads to continuation of the process and potential credibility issues.

    So, what is the alternative? It is to ask that simple but profound question: “Why?” This will help you uncover the reasons for their objections. Do they have legitimate competitive price concerns, are not sold on your value or are just fishing for a better deal. By searching for the “why,” you can develop the business rationale for a principled concession if a concession is needed or the rationale for holding your position, while giving yourself more time to craft the appropriate relationship-maintaining response. Perhaps that is a change in scope and outcome or an alteration of terms.

Employing these three strategies in your sales negotiations will generate more favorable results and create longer-term valued relationships with your customers!

For more information as well as resources you can use to improve every aspect of your business and sales negotiation process, please visit:

Five Reasons Soft Skills Are Crucial To Successful Negotiation

In a previous article, Negotiate Like a Pro: Ask the Right Questions, I wrote about the importance of understanding how to help your negotiation counterparts achieve their most important personal objectives while simultaneously serving the business needs of your respective organizations. If you are going to do business with someone, it must be related to enabling them to achieve a better future state.

To get there, it is essential to have a genuine curiosity that your counterparts can sense. When they understand that you desire to improve their condition, they are more likely to follow and actually move closer to your way of thinking. In that regard, empathy is one of the most essential leadership characteristics.

Many sales leaders may agree that capability (the ability to deliver), integrity and confidence are essential components to gaining trust in business situations. You are fortunate indeed if you have a lot of capability, tons of credibility and are beaming with confidence. But you also need to keep in mind that your greatest strengths can be perceived as arrogance — unless you balance them with humility and compassion — which flow from empathy.

You can see the negative impact of arrogance absent of empathy in politics and leaders in the business world. Even when victories are achieved with determination and persistence, if the other side does not feel that its needs have been considered and prioritized, there are often negative consequences. Empathy is the salve that can heal, or better yet, prevent these wounds.

Given balanced choices, most business partners would rather deal with quietly confident individuals who demonstrate and apply their capabilities than those who laud themselves unfettered. Humility and empathy often contribute positive leverage to smooth the inevitable bumps in the negotiation process. As Stephen Covey put it, “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”

When your counterparts understand that you are empathetic, you can even apply negative leverage to demonstrate that they are about to make an ill-advised decision if they don’t follow your suggestions.

Why Patience Is A Master Negotiation Skill

When people are immersed in their own deals and facing pressure to make something happen, they can lose the ability to listen. Under pressure, people tend to talk too much to try to force decisions. Most mistakes are made by individuals who open their mouths when they do not have to or shouldn’t. As a result, they will over promise and under deliver, when a better approach would be doing the exact opposite.

This is where patience comes into play. By resisting the urge to jump in and show your knowledge, and focusing on active listening instead, you can gather information that boosts your knowledge and provides context about your negotiation counterpart(s), the company’s environment, the marketplace and so forth.

Once you have that information in hand and place it in the proper context, you can improve your own level of confidence and, even more importantly, build the confidence of individuals you’re dealing with.

Give and take are part of virtually all negotiations. But you never want to be in a position where you are making unnecessary concessions because you didn’t exercise your patience and listen enough to understand critical facts and motivations. These types of unprincipled concessions are not tied to a credible business rationale because you haven’t gathered the knowledge to develop rationales for making or declining them. Sometimes, these concessions come as a surprise to the other side.

Recently, I received a call from a telecommunications rep who promised to give me an additional 25% discount below the already promised 25% if my team and I switched service providers. Not once did he ask what I liked or didn’t like about the current provider. In fact, he had no idea whether the additional discount was necessary or warranted. This type of behavior affects credibility and even worse, can lead to an environment where more and more concessions are expected.

To put the need for empathy and patience in human terms, consider the last time someone tried to sell you something or otherwise do business with you and you did not feel that they had empathy or listened to you. Perhaps they talked past you or took your motivations for granted. Perhaps they offered what you felt was insincere flattery. The lesson is that behaviors that offend you as a buyer should be avoided when the positions are reversed.

Here are five reasons why the development and practice of empathy and patience can lead to a major improvement in your negotiation effectiveness.

  1. People prefer to buy from those they like and trust — and they tend to like those who demonstrate empathy and patience by caring about them and listening to their needs.
  2. Empathy and patience are precursors to respectful discussions in which people are willing to share information so you can understand the terrain in which you are operating. And this knowledge is always helpful as it provides the basis for building value with which the other side can agree.
  3. Empathy and patience create an environment that is both more pleasant and productive for buyers and sellers alike.
  4. Empathy and patience build up a bank of positive goodwill that buyers and negotiation partners will draw on to give you the benefit of the doubt when things do not go as planned or inevitable mistakes are made.
  5. Honing these important traits can differentiate you from your competition.

President Teddy Roosevelt is attributed with the observation that “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is an oft-quoted sentiment that is much easier to say than it is to practice. But when you show that you care by demonstrating empathy and patience, the results can be profound and profitable.

Note: this article originally appeared in February, 2022 on You can view the original post here.

negotiation skills

Negotiate Like a Pro: Ask the Right Questions

As you may remember from part one of this series, Gaining and Maintaining Positive Leverage, I had the opportunity to join Kison Patel, CEO, and Founder of M&A Science, as his guest on the M&A Science podcast earlier this summer. Kison and I spent over an hour talking about negotiation strategies and tactics in an episode titled, How to Negotiate Like a Pro. You and your team may gain great value from the strategies and tactics we discussed so have a listen and share with your colleagues.

In our practice, we use a tool called the Risk Reward and Action Matrix. Basically, the purpose is to clearly identify the drivers and inhibitors to a customer’s decision to act.  This tool outlines the rewards (benefits) your prospect will receive by taking the suggested action (e.g. purchasing your solution) versus the risks incurred by not acting. And this is one of many areas where it is more important to ask the right questions than delivering a sales pitch. In fact, asking the right questions gives the prospective customer comfort and their answers should become a key part of your persuasive sales pitch.

The ability to ask questions is sometimes constrained by the fact that many business and sales professionals (including me) are type-A personalities. As such, our tendency is to get to the point, move the process forward and close the deal without undue delay. However, one thing I learned over the years is that patience and listening are two skills we must nurture in order to develop the portfolio of information that allows for accurate risk-reward analysis, as well as effective scenario planning.

We’ve all heard the admonition that we have two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we talk. While there is much wisdom here, no matter how well intentioned, when people are immersed in their own deals and facing pressure to make something happen, they can lose the ability to listen as well as they should. This is where situational awareness and professional negotiation training can be a strong asset.

Asking the Right Questions is a Superpower

You always have the opportunity to listen, particularly if you take the time to ask good questions. In the negotiation context, good questions start with curiosity. I’ll talk in a future article about how empathy is a business accelerator, but it helps to understand that empathy begins with curiosity, which is the fuel for asking great questions.

Your objective in asking the right questions starts well before you meet with your counterparts. It begins with research into their organization. You want to know as much as possible about what is going on in their industry, and more importantly, the drivers their company and the individuals you are dealing with are facing – what are the hurdles, what are the competitive pressures, what are the opportunities, etc. This research – much of which you can accomplish online – provides the context to make sure your questions are timely and relevant.

If you happen to be dealing with senior executives you can find plenty of online information to help understand individual motivations, which are often as important, or more so, than organizational imperatives. Perhaps the executive has taken over someone else’s job recently, or been part of a corporate shakeup. If so, what was the problem and why were they hired?  Basically, I want to know two important things – first, what’s motivating them? This is the “why” question that is really about the current state. Second, I want to know the flip side of the why coin – their objectives and the desired future state?

The Importance of Discovering Objectives

The subtext here is that you want to understand how to help your negotiation counterparts achieve their most important personal objectives while serving the needs of the organization and their business objectives. If we are going to do a deal, it has to be related to enabling them to achieve that future state. This is true whether you are selling a product or service, doing an M&A deal, or hiring a new employee.

Relative to hiring, when I interview potential teammates, I often make more judgements based on the questions they ask than I do on the answers they give. I want to know whether they have conducted quality research about me and my company and possess the necessary levels of curiosity and empathy. I am also validating whether the candidate is able to convert this curiosity and empathy into a logical and structured set of questions. If you are hiring salespeople, it is particularly important that they demonstrate these skills.

One important point is that, while formulating and asking great questions is important, so is the ability to sit back, listen carefully, and overcome the urge to jump in with an answer. Every pause is not an opportunity to show your brilliance and interjections will often stop the flow of information you need to move the deal forward.

While it is important to ask the right questions, refraining from asking the wrong questions is also crucial.  Generally, we should not ask questions that we could answer easily through basic research. For example: “What were your revenues last year?”, or “How many employees do you have?”  Questions like these, unless placed in a thoughtful context (such as validation of a larger premise) will seem trite and can damage your credibility.

Canned questions that sound like they came from a sales training seminar are also a no-no. My least favorite of this genre is “What keeps you up at night”?

If you ask the right questions, you’ll find out soon enough what your prospect values most, and what it takes to move the deal and your relationship forward.

For more about how to negotiate like a pro, listen to the podcast. You can also find plenty of informative and actionable negotiation strategies at the K&R Negotiations resources page.

keep cool tense negotiations

How to Keep Your Cool – Even in Tense Negotiations

I have written quite a bit about how to sharpen you and your team’s professional negotiation skills to close larger deals, faster. However, there are many times professionals lose otherwise quality deals because the seller, the buyer or both, can’t keep their calm when the discussion becomes tense.  We have recently seen a client get so emotional in a discussion that the other side would have walked away had cooler heads not prevailed.

Rudyard Kipling talked about this as a virtue in his famous poem If: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” Great aspiration, but how to accomplish this with rude, inflexible and humorless negotiators?  What if they are even downright nasty? Consider this scene:

The chief negotiator for Dewey, Cheatum and Howe is sarcastic and condescending. In the middle of a tense negotiation, he says: “Gee. Harvey, I’d make this offer if I thought you and your team could understand it.” He is a nasty piece of work. “Arrogant” and “obnoxious” come to mind. Plus, he fails at personal grooming. Add “offensive” to the mix.

Perhaps I’m exaggerting to make the point but what should you do if confronted by such a scenario? The natural inclination is to tell the person off. But being the smart negotiator that you are, you say to your team, “SO WHAT?” Yes, you would rather do business with people who are pleasant. Yes, you would rather do business with people who are not rude and arrogant. Who wouldn’t? But if you’re doing business with someone who is annoying or mean-spirited, stay cool and focus on the merits of the transaction.

Keep Your Focus

I am not advocating for avoiding minor conflict, as heathy disagreement is a necessary part of the negotiation process. Perhaps the individual in question is truly unreasonable or mean-spirited – such people exist. However, any worthy negotiator on the other side—although we like to refer to them as “business partners” or “customers”—will attempt to recognize and understand your strengths and weaknesses early in a negotiation. From that point on, they will try to take advantage of your weaknesses and get around your strengths.

The key point here is to always keep your emotions in check and strictly focus on the merits of the transaction. Ask yourself: “Does this deal make sense for both parties?” If the answer is “yes,” then go about your business and make the best deal for yourself and your company.  Remember, as long as the deal makes business sense for them also, they would look very bad to their peers and superiors if they didn’t get it done. Or, to put this a different way, concentrate on the merits of the deal, not on the behavior of the person on the other side. (Footnote:  Of course, there are limitation when the other side “crosses the line” by going beyond merely rude to clearly offensive, in which case you need to judge how and when to bring it to their and their management’s attention.)

It’s Both What You Say and How You Say It!

Often—in negotiations as in our personal lives—it is not what you say, but how you say it. Our interpretation of words in a specific situation and the way we respond to them depends on our experiences, values, and emotions. Sometimes people use different words to mean the same thing. However, many words carry loaded overtones, connotations that are different from their dictionary meanings.

For example, the words “cheap” and “thrifty” have the same denotation (dictionary meaning): frugal. But wouldn’t you rather be called thrifty than cheap during a negotiation? (Or at any time, for that matter!) Cheap has a negative connotation of “tight-fisted”, while thrifty has the positive connotation of “wisely economical”. Similarly, the words “stubborn” and “resolute” both mean persistent, but stubborn carries a negative connotation of “obstinate” and “pigheaded,” while resolute carries a positive connotation of “purposeful” or “resolved.”

As a negotiator, it’s important to be sensitive to the use of words, otherwise you run the risk of offending someone. More importantly, their behavior toward you may conform to the negative tone you’ve set and you won’t have a clue why! One of the best ways to not lose your cool is to never give the other person a reason to be upset in the first place.

Sometimes, personalities simply don’t mesh for a myriad of reasons.  Following the principles outlined in my book Negotiate Wisely in Business & Technology, you can reconfigure the negotiating team with compatible personalities. This alone can improve your odds of eventual success.

One final thought

When all else fails, it may be worthwhile to find a way to relieve the pressure during a tense negotiation. This can come in two forms: planning events during the negotiation and specfically, within a tough meeting to change the tone. Ways to relieve the pressure include social activities, informal meetings, off-hour activities, and humor. Changing the environment and getting away from the business conference room can be a very effective way to improve a situation that’s gotten testy under the pressure of getting the deal done.

Within a meeting, relieving the pressure may involve taking a break or the use of humor. Assuming you are one of those people who can deliver an amusing (non-offensive) line, this can be a great way to get everyone back to a more positive mindset. I agree with actor Ted Danson’s comment, “Humor can bring people under the tent. And a good joke can deflect some of the intensity surrounding a serious subject.”

I wish you great success in keeping your cool and succeeding in all your negotiation environments.

Sales Negotiation

Business Negotiation: Three Questions that Will Shorten Your Sales Cycle

(This post is adapted from K&R Negotiations’ Six Ways to Shorten the Sales Cycle, a complimentary executive brief.)

Perhaps your strategy-level sales conversations have centered on how to shorten sales cycles. Many companies find themselves mired in protracted sales negotiations, driven in part by the expanding involvement of multiple people (and functions) in the decision process.

A recent article (The High Cost of Buying Complexity) cites CEB (now Gartner) research when saying that the customer’s own expectations of the buying process are exceeded by 97%, i.e., taking 97% longer than expected by those requiring the sought goods or services. This seems true whether the ultimate purchase decision is made or if the process results in no decision. In our experience, this is a result of changing priorities or organizations due to passage of time.

Decision to Purchase vs. Decision to Wait

Sellers and sales organizations are often their own worst enemy in this process.


Factor in the Decision Process – Make It Easier for Your Customer to buy

One of the most obvious errors we see is the lack of knowledge of the customer’s decision process. This falls on the seller; however, just as often, we see that buying organizations that need the goods or services don’t have a firm grasp on how to navigate their own processes. This is where a knowledgeable seller can help. They need to ask their counterpart at least three questions in the interest of realistic expectations.

 Three Questions Sellers Should Ask Buyers

“WProcess Iconhat is the process you will need to go through to get a decision?”


Length of Process“How long does it normally take?”


Decision criteria

“What criteria will be used to make the decision?”


We recently advised a client that projected a major deal to close in 90 days. The value proposition was compelling – the buyer would save millions of dollars per year in running their core banking system. When we asked about the process, this was the conversation:

Them: “The CIO will need to go to the board to get approval, but that is just a formality.”

Us: “How will the CIO decide whether or not to go to the Board?”

Them: “If we demonstrate we can actually do this and the savings are compelling. The business case on savings has already been discussed and we have a proof of concept running.”

Us: “Good! When is the PoC supposed to be completed?”

Them: “In one week.”

Us: “When is the meeting with the CIO to discuss the outcome of the PoC scheduled?”

Them: “The week after that.”

Us: “How often does the Board meet? When is the next meeting?”

Them: “Once monthly, however, due to a national holiday, the next monthly meeting will not take place. So, in about 6 weeks.”

Us: “And once the Board approves, will procurement issue a PO?”

Them: “No, they will issue an RFP.”

Us: “And how long will that process take?”

Them: “It has never taken more than 2 months from the RFP request.”

This team was taking an incredible risk and would likely be frustrated, along with the CIO. So, we discussed what could be done to compress this process in a collaborative way with the CIO’s organization. These included steps like:

Collaborating with the CIO’s Organization

CIO Collaboration Steps

Relentless and thorough preparation is where negotiators on the vendor side shortchange themselves. It’s a major point of focus during our negotiation training, and one of the most critical aspects of this is considering the various groups of stakeholders across the table that need to understand and buy your value argument.

The thought process for you as a negotiator is similar to that for your internal negotiations: Identify goals by individual, using their measurement systems as appropriate. Remember that the higher you go in a customer organization, the greater the span of control. As a result, getting sponsors at those levels gives you greater leverage in closing agreements. Research shows that senior executives get very involved in the decision process for major purchases. But that involvement is typically early and late in the cycle.

Asking the right questions and managing the negotiation process with key roles in mind will lessen the likelihood that your deal languishes on the buyer’s side of the table.

Download your free copy of Six Ways to Shorten the Sales Cycle.

Negotiations touch every part of your life.

No Matter Your Role, You Can Always Benefit By Sharpening Your Negotiation Skills

Negotiations Touch Every Part of Your Life and Career

It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying a car or an enterprise software system: negotiations touch every part of your life, every part of your career, and will have a major impact on your personal success. Dealing with a regular client who, at the eleventh hour, wants a little extra outside the scope of what has been agreed upon? You’re in negotiations. Trying to get consensus on a critical marketing campaign? You’ve become a negotiator by default.

Then there are all the formally recognized situations where negotiation is explicit, highly formal and usually high-stakes: sales, procurement, mergers and acquisitions, partnerships and licensing arrangements, to name a few.

One of the fundamental principles we teach in the course of our business negotiation training is this: the concept of M.O.R.E., which stands for Motivations, Objectives, Requirements and Edge — Edge being the advantage you gain once you understand the other side’s unique motivations, objectives and requirements.

You are much more likely to succeed when you come to the negotiating table with not only a clear sense of your negotiation counterpart’s business realities at the organizational level, but also the individual drivers of those involved. And making assumptions at either level can be foolhardy.

That’s why we advocate for a methodical, patient and constructive approach to negotiation that stresses listening and learning as much as possible, and taking concrete steps to discover what passions or pressures really drive a request or demand.

Of course, this means understanding your own M.O.R.E. factors, as well. (We all know what Sun Tzu had to say about the prospects for a commander who knows neither himself nor the enemy.) What are you hoping to achieve? What course can you set to articulate your own value drivers so that you have clearer guideposts to follow and create better deals for everybody?

This is why we focus on the needs and roles of every layer of a client organization: from each chair of the C-suite, to the sales director, to the project manager, to the lawyer who must carefully define and protect key terms.

Based on our three decades of work with leading global organizations, we created a high-level role-based view of negotiation from various chairs in the organization, including: CEOs, CSOs, CLOs, project managers, sales managers and attorneys.

BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) Woman tears agreement documents in front of agent who wants to get a signature

Why You Need Better than BATNA: Formulating a Defensible “Walk Away” Rationale in Negotiations

Either through becoming emotionally invested, getting pressure from leadership or being unable to analyze key factors that should indicate retreat, business negotiators often find themselves spending long amounts of time on deals of diminishing — or even illusory — value.

One of the cornerstones of negotiation theory is BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), advanced by Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Program on Negotiation (PON) in their book, Getting to YES. Read more

Further Thoughts on the “Master/Servant” Dynamic in Negotiation

In January I penned this post about the new plateaus of opportunity that open up for both buyers and sellers when we make the mindset shift to becoming a true strategic partner, rather than just a “run and fetch” vendor that recites features and delivers quotes.

There is a fundamental problem (one that is not necessarily limited to contract negotiators): Even people who build long, otherwise successful careers in demanding positions don’t consider themselves professional negotiators — even though they do it every day! They do it internally with their colleagues, externally with clients and vendors, and even at home. Read more

K&R CEO Mladen Kresic Discusses Negotiation Know-it-Alls with Knowledge@Wharton Host Dan Loney

K&R CEO Mladen Kresic Discusses Negotiation Know-it-Alls with Knowledge@Wharton Host Dan Loney (Complete Transcript)

On Friday, May 20 K&R CEO Mladen Kresic joined Knowledge@Wharton (Sirius XM Channel 111) host Dan Loney to talk about how negotiators can keep “know-it-alls” from ruining their next big deal. (Kresic wrote on the subject in his 2016 white paper, “Dealing with Negotiation Know-It-Alls: How to Keep Instructors, Intimidators and Impostors from Derailing Your Deal.”

During this segment, Loney and Kresic discussed the three major types of know-it-all (The Instructor, The Intimidator and The Impostor), the threats they represent to successful negotiations, and strategies negotiators can use to mitigate their negative influence and keep their deal discussions on track.

This content reproduced courtesy of Sirius XM and Knowledge@Wharton.

Loney: Have you ever been part of a negotiation and feel like you’re hitting your head on a brick wall because the person on the other side is the “know-it-all”? It can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with, but there may be some hope. Mladen Kresic returns to the show. He’s the president and Chief Executive Officer of K&R Negotiations. He’s recently published a white paper on the problem and how you can handle the situation — and maybe even make it work for you. Mladen, the author of Negotiate Wisely in Business and Technology, is joining us on the show right now. Great to catch up with you, Mladen. How have you been? Read more