Even with a well-crafted value argument and solid customer motivation to get a deal done, the whole process can unravel if negotiation leadership and teamwork are absent. The most effective “tactic” in your arsenal is a unified team. Selecting your team, involving all key players in planning, and maintaining group discipline begin the teamwork that will hold your important deal together.
In our decades of helping clients manage and win complex deals, we have seen five key teamwork principles that are critical to getting the win/win negotiation outcomes you desire.
1. Recognize Varied Motivations, Both Internally and Externally
Everyone has specific reasons for acting as they do. (For example, the other side may stall negotiations if they think you are in a revenue bind, hoping to extract price concessions.) Lay the necessary groundwork by considering both the organization-level and role-based motivations of the other side. Engage your team to discover likely behavioral drivers and communicate them across the team. This will make you all better prepared to respond to the client’s most likely positions or objections.
2. Debate Internally; Unify Externally
Your team must understand and agree to the goals of your negotiation. And even though it can be hard to accept, everyone must be aware that winning is uneven – not every team member will get exactly what they want. However, while winning is uneven, each team member has to win enough to go forward with the transaction. Internally, this is eased by reinforcing the common higher-level goals you all share. Externally, each side needs to feel good about the deal if you aim to forge lucrative relationships that last. That’s why advance internal discussion about how you win is so important. Inviting healthy debate and getting the perspective of all your stakeholders helps you anticipate problems and subjects your assumptions to the rigor of cross-examination, thereby strengthening your case. But once the other side is engaged, it’s time for a unified front. Keep squabbles and differences of opinion behind closed doors.
3. Build Two-Way Trust and Responsibility With Management
Upper management can be an asset to the negotiation process if the relationship is handled properly. Start by realizing that you are all on the same side and want the same thing—the best deal for your company. Building a channel of trust and transparency with your management means investing some time in formulating ground rules as part of your preparation – and then executing to those rules. Some key things to make clear:
- What are your responsibilities as a lead negotiator?
- What are the company parameters for the negotiation?
- How would management like to be apprised of negotiation progress or challenges?
- How will escalations to higher levels of management be handled?
4. Create a True Team in Which Everybody Can Contribute Expertise
In complex deals, especially ones involving technology, there’s too much going on at once for one person to manage. You need multiple skills, perspectives and focused group learning to create the collective team “expert.”
When your team meets to prepare for negotiation, consider the breadth of roles that can contribute to your access and assign appropriately. This can help ensure that everyone contributes their skills as required by subject matter: from finance and marketing to engineering and procurement. The particulars of your organization and the deal at hand will drive your role selection. Don’t leave anyone behind who may be an asset!
5. Work as a Team; Communicate Openly
As a general principle, the lead negotiator should share all information with the team. This approach will help team members provide more valuable input. This builds trust and minimizes the likelihood that you’ll be undermined by management or other members of your team.
Communication with team members should be open, timely, vertical and horizontal. Remember that this is a two-way process. That means if you share information with your team, you earn the right and should expect your teammates to do the same. And, if you are in a support position and the lead negotiator doesn’t fill you in on everything you need to know to do your best, don’t be shy about asking for the information you need. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.