“What Your Competitors Hope You Haven’t Learned About Negotiation”

On August 16th, Tim Larkin of Crestview Communications and I co-presented at the EBITDA Partners Summer Speaker Session. Our topic: “What your competitors hope you haven’t learned about negotiation.”

We explained what we considered were the top attributes to a successful negotiation, and then each explained through a story one of our negotiations. We highlighted what was important and how we came to that conclusion.

Tim typically works in the Communications, Internet and Space, whereas I normally work in the Product and Manufacturing arena.

When we first discussed conducting this co-presentation we were expecting more differences or nuances than we actually found, and hence conducting a shared role in the presentation worked very well.

The basic outline we gave the audience included:

  • Being prepared
  • Understanding the market place dynamics
  • Understanding the interests and positions of those you’re negotiating with
  • Understanding the difference between “this is my bottom line” and “the BATNA”
  • Managing the location and timing of negotiation events
  • Creating the plan

All of these are very important, but having great clarity on the “interests versus positions” and creating the plan are essential.

Tim did an excellent job of explaining how positions are simple statements, but interests are often harder to determine, but are the things that get to a faster resolution.

First Example Presented:

“I have told my supplier I must get a 4% savings, I know my boss will be very happy with me if I get 2%, and OK if I settle with a 1% save.”  The position is a 4%; the interest is between 1% and 2%!

Second Example Presented:

“I signed this deal a year ago, how can I change suppliers now for another 10% save without looking bad on last year’s deal?  Now a smaller saving but extended terms, or even a month free service would be more palatable.”  The position was to get the best save possible, the interest was not being seen as doing a bad deal in the past!

I explained that a plan and a rehearsed negotiation are also essential if you want to succeed, trying to wing it on the day, never works. I then showed a plan of a negotiation that covered every aspect of those listed above and walked them through step-by-step on how the plan was shaped and how the plan shaped the actual negotiating positions. The what, the where, the how, the BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), the positions and interest.

Thanks Tim for the presentation, the feedback has been first-class.

© 2017 By Steve Wardleworth (Wardleworth Consulting LLC) All rights reserved

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