If better negotiating is about being better able to express your value, how good are people at expressing value?  Buyers pay for value, which is not to be confused with price.  If you heard, “this is a $40,000 car, but I will sell it to you for $32,000”, what would you think?  You would most likely think it was a $32,000 (or less) car.  Since IBM just made its largest-ever acquisition, Cognos, we thought we’d look at how Cognos expresses their value.  One of their solution overview pages includes this language:

1. “Enables more effective rewards for your workforce, enhancing satisfaction and commitment.

2. Increases customer retention; win more new customers; improve productivity; and raise profits.”

There is a distinct difference between these two examples.  Number 2 follows a recognizable path – customer retention and more customers leading ultimately to profit.  Almost everyone recognizes this value statement as powerful (if believed).  Number 1 seems to be a weaker value statement to most readers.  Employee “satisfaction and commitment” are interesting, but not compelling unless you have a certain role in your organization.  For a Human Resources executive that is measured on employee satisfaction, this is a winning argument.  For the Chief Financial Officer, it probably is not.

This is a very good example of altering your value argument for the audience that you need to convince.  Use of this “flexible” persuasion is a critical negotiating skill.  Is something still missing from these value statements?  Yes – it is the uniqueness of the value that only Cognos can provide.  Without that, Cognos will be selling commodity solutions that are undifferentiated from those offered by their competition. (TD)