negotiation tacticsRecognize the most typical negotiation tactics. Understand methods for managing these negotiation tactics, maintaining your leverage, and keeping the conversation focused on the best outcome for both parties.

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

Negotiations touch every part of your life.

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

Negotations 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.

Using Your “Incumbency” to Create Positive Leverage in Negotiation

Some concepts are better expressed using an example. Our client was at a crucial juncture with their customer — a European bank. In just three months, the time frame was expiring on an agreement to provision identity access management. That project had been running for three years, and had progressed substantially as forecasted. So a renewal to continue with the work was being discussed, plus, our client wanted to extend the scope of services for 24/7 identity and access management, which they believed the customer could use.

This project was extremely complex, and it was incumbent on our client to express the value delivered to that point. This is extremely important: Nobody owes you recognition of your value. You have to make the case!

Being successful in this situation meant Read more

Negotiation Mistakes: Misguided Integrity

negotiation integrityNegotiating with integrity is central to the Win Wisely™ approach; after all, if we are in search of positive leverage to artfully move the other side closer to our way of thinking, we must have integrity. Integrity gives us the foundation to make value arguments that are believable. When we are perceived as people who constantly play games with the truth and are slippery during discussion of the challenges, our leverage predictably erodes.

However, there are situations in which being too forthright needlessly damages your position and erodes your leverage as surely as being untruthful would. Imagine that you are negotiating with a manufacturer whose specialty component is critical to your upcoming product. The week before, you dismissed an alternative provider after lengthy negotiations, leaving this manufacturer in the “sole provider” position. Read more

Unprincipled Concessions Cost You Money at the Negotiating Table

Spot Them, Avoid Them and Close Faster

Unprincipled concessions are concessions not tied to a credible business rationale. Years of research show us that this simple business negotiation mistake costs companies between 9 and 18% of their gross operating revenue.

Principled Concessions Infographic

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Leadership in Negotiation: Selecting Your Negotiation Team and Rules of Engagement

Leadership in negotiations is critical. The leader is responsible for setting expectations and parameters for your side in regards to pricing, strategy, deadlines, process management and more. Failing to define this opens the door to many potential deal-ending difficulties, and is likely to erode your position on the way to closing.

There are many moving parts, not least of which is negotiation team selection. Who you choose to have on your side of the table—and more importantly, how they perform while they are there—is going to have a strong bearing on your chances of arriving at a favorable outcome. This consideration goes beyond picking those directly involved. You may need key technical or financial expertise in the wings to build your value case at critical junctures. We know that conferring with a keen financial team member behind the scenes can provide the insight to quickly defuse a potential customer’s objection, establish value and credibility, and keep the negotiation moving forward.

This is why it’s vital to include careful team selection as part of your pre-negotiation process in light of your objectives. What resources and talents will you need, and among those, who will be directly involved and who will take a support role? Having examined the deal closely, including the other side’s motivations and likely positions, you will see what mix of sales, services, finance, technology and legal support you will need to leverage. Most negotiations only involve a few people directly, but indirect involvement by team members with discrete fields of expertise is often necessary.

Once you have your team assembled, call an internal kickoff meeting where the rules of engagement and communication discipline are clearly outlined. Remember, a team divided is a costly team. Nothing can derail a negotiation process more quickly than undisciplined communication or a divided team. Cross-talk and side conversations during negotiations may muddy the value argument, degrade your ability to manage the agenda, and ultimately cost you credibility. A lead negotiator needs to know all the information that is being shared. If side conversations happen, they should be pre-planned within your team, including positions and the possible outcomes from them. Savvy negotiators on the other side know how to employ “divide and conquer” tactics to extract more favorable terms by creating parallel conversations with other members of your team. The result can be degradation of your deal, confusion or loss of face. Regardless of the amount of planning, surprises in deal-making are bound to happen. What is preventable are surprises that occur from your team.

This is why having a lead negotiator who defines the rules of engagement and serves as a single point of control for agenda management is so important. Have you set expectations for how to respond if the lead negotiator on the other side bypasses your lead negotiator to probe one of your junior team members for sensitive information or better terms? Who will control the drafting of documents and therefore help you control the conversation and manage the agenda? These are all things you must make clear before your team begins the process.

The level of detail on team selection can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the deal. But one thing never changes: Teamwork is critical, even if it’s just two people buying a car. In business, a carefully selected team that knows their objectives and can present a unified front will win more deals than the team that does not.

Negotiation Blocking Techniques

In one sense, negotiations are a strategic exchange of ideas and information. But the value of what information we give (and when) can have a very real bearing on our success.

As you seek leverage in the deal, you are trying to find key information from the other side. If you’re negotiating with seasoned professionals, you can expect them to do the same with you. Sometimes difficult questions arise that, when answered, could erode your position. For example, if you have few or no real alternatives to doing an important deal, revealing that fact to the other side can cost you dearly. That’s why experienced negotiators have a handful of practiced blocking techniques they use when they feel a certain question must be deflected. As always, consider your purpose, audience and personal style as you decide how, and when, to use any of these strategies. Read more

Chief Procurement Officer Study: Implications for Sales Negotiators

closing big deals

The IBM Institute for Business Value recently released a new thought leadership study (Chief Procurement Officer Study: Improving competitive advantage through procurement excellence) Sellers who regularly deal with chief procurement officers (CPOs) or that CPO’s staff should read it.

The paper’s creators surveyed 1,128 CPOs from organizations with annual revenues in excess of $1 billion to understand how procurement has evolved at top-performing companies. The cost-cutting measures following the 2008 economic crisis increased the influence of many CPOs. In 2013, it is clear that top-performing CPOs have evolved beyond traditional procurement cost-reduction practices. Read more

Negotiation in Sales: Presenting the Value Argument that Wins in Highly Competitive Conditions

With pressure to meet earnings and revenue targets, expand new markets and make the most of every resource, today’s global sales force is the difference between success and failure. Communication and online information are leveling the playing field, creating an extremely competitive environment and shrinking margins.

Even the best products are one development cycle away from being leapfrogged in the marketplace. Competing on price is the path to becoming commoditized and to being robbed of the ability to present a unique value proposition. Ultimately, it’s your sales people—and their skills and experience—that will help you differentiate yourself, your solutions or your company in a highly competitive selling environment. Read more

Negotiation Examples: Managing Internal Conflict

negotiation examples managing internal conflict
Not all books on negotiation skills cover how to handle internal dissension or conflict during important negotiations. There’s a reason we included it as the third of K&R’s Six Principles™ of Negotiation: A team divided is a costly team.

Here is an example of how one of our seasoned negotiation consultants, “Hank,” handled a very difficult situation with a member of his own team before joining us at K&R.

Hank’s client had put together a strong team to negotiate a deal with an Israeli company. This was one of his client’s biggest deals ever in the country; huge commissions were riding on it. Read more

International Negotiation: More About Preparing to Win

In our previous post on international negotiations, we discussed the critical importance of preparation and gathering facts. You can’t control all the factors, but you can control your knowledge base. The bigger that base is, the higher the chances for success.

As noted before, your charge as an international negotiator is to conduct thorough background work on everything that could impact your potential deal. This includes trying to account for cultural influence on business behaviors, regulations unique to that country, and more. Here we will suggest information sources that will widen your knowledge base and make you a more credible negotiator. In some cases, access to these sources may be limited due to considerations of distance or protocol. Read more