In their marketplace, your top accounts are under tremendous pressure and are struggling to deal with the chaos in their business world. So we all need to be proficient at persuading decision makers why they should use you and not a cheaper supplier. For those who manage your top accounts strategically, you know that if you don’t bring value to them, they will negotiate purely on price. To be successful, you need to find growth opportunities and to then negotiate on value.
The Harvard Negotiation Institute
I recently returned from an executive workshop at the Harvard Law School, Boston, USA. One main message from the “Negotiation and Leadership” workshop was ensuring the critical framework of negotiations was in place.
1. Separate people from the problems.
In difficult times, it’s easy to attack the other negotiator because they are slow when making a decision or are risk-averse when making a decision.
In our workshops, managers discover their negotiation style and then decide the best way of dealing with other negotiation styles. Rather than attacking the other side, the key is knowing the substantive issues and then working on the substantive issues and not the other side.
2. Focus on interests not positions.
Negotiating better results is contingent on you identifying what is a real interest at the table and what is a stated position. For example, if your customer says “I just met your competitor who said you have been ripping us off for years”. This is a classic position. Unless we understand what are the real and stated interests of this person, then the negotiation becomes positional and no one wins, it descends into: I am right and you are wrong.
Before negotiating be clear on your interests and when negotiating starts discover the other side’s interests. As you prepare, ask what interests are shared and what interests are different. This stops you taking a position too soon.
3. Develop creative options.
When we consult on live negotiations, the team that spends time creating more options and more creative options go to the negotiation table more confidently. To produce more creative options, be clear on what value you bring to the negotiation table. Identify opportunities to create value for the other side.
Creating value for the other side opens opportunities to capture more financial value for your business. But you must prepare, because under pressure most people do not produce creative options, most stick with the status quo.
4. Focus on Results.
For quicker decisions that translate into actionable results faster, use cooperative behaviours that help you facilitate a yes-able deal. So, skilfully manage difficult negotiators, and focus on crafting a deal for them to say yes. Avoid tactics and focus on how to reach an agreement. As you prepare to negotiate, this allows you to anticipate predictable surprises during the negotiation.
The four foundations are needed to find a sustainable agreement and to develop all parties’ strong commitment to achieve results.
We can’t change the turbulence occurring this year and next, however we can change how we approach that turbulence. If you need to increase your skills then the business school at MGSMhave an excellent program containing some of the learning’s from Harvard. If you have a major negotiation coming up with a key account, this is a good time to increase the skills of the team – call me!