Speed Kills - Festina Lente!
Shakespeare wrote about time; others think about time, and many complain about how time is racing them by. However, few people do anything to make the best use of time when negotiating. Time management is important because the outcome of any negotiation is dependent upon how well you have used your time before you deliver your message during the deal.
Senior Executives from all over the world now state that time management is one of their biggest issues and want people who negotiate with them to be ready. Once they had plenty of time to be involved in all phases of the negotiation, now they are more likely only to become involved in the agreement phase.
A fast car in the hands of an inexperienced driver is as deadly as a negotiator rushing to end the negotiation as quickly as possible. In both cases, speed can kill. Too much speed is applied toward the end of a negotiation and not enough at the start or while managing time more effectively throughout the negotiation process. To save you looking up ‘festina lente,’ it means hasten slowly.
Time management when negotiating is covered in more detail in Chapter 11 of the book, The Creative Negotiator, 2 Ed.
To be able to hasten slowly, you need to prepare for critical negotiations with solid planning tools.
If only I had more time
The word if could change the world. It certainly changes the outcome of a negotiating- presentation when it is used to excuse inadequate preparation.
I have worked with many people who constantly complain that if only there were more hours in the day, then they could prepare for their negotiations and be more successful. In contrast, I have worked with people who also recognise that managing time is the key to successful negotiating and negotiation presentations. The difference is, successful people are those who do something about it. They don’t complain. Instead, they decide whether the negotiation is important, and if it is, they set aside the time to make it work.
The paradox of time management is:‘it takes time to make time’.
Use time effectively
In the past, I often laughed at the cliché about time being the most important resource. However, as I observed successful negotiators, I began to realise that I could link their success to the way they managed their preparation for that all-important negotiation. Their use of time was deliberate, economical and logical.
The best preparation is proactive, not reactive. Usually, people that are proactive in their preparation have more opportunities to be creative, and often take the initiative to avoid or minimise problems before they arise. The result of this proactive approach is that it helps reduce stress in the lead up to the negotiation.
The level of stress in a negotiation is directly related to how people prepare for a simple or major presentation in a negotiation.
Be honest, when was the last time you felt stressed during a major negotiation? Was the stress linked to a lack of preparation for the interview? Did it cost you? I can guarantee that if you feel stressed during a presentation because of inadequate preparation, you will focus on yourself, not your audience, and your lack of preparation will be obvious to the audience.
Using time effectively enables you to reach the goals that you set yourself consistently. This success becomes a powerful motivator for an ongoing commitment to effective time management.
Estimate time needed
Too often, you get close to a major negotiation, and it is obvious that you do not have enough time to prepare thoroughly. The outcome is normally a compromise between quality and coverage.
Time is short for senior executives, so use your time wisely in all aspects of the negotiation.
Companies are becoming flatter, and senior executives don’t have time to meet with everyone they should meet involved in the negotiation. But connecting with and building relationships with senior executives is critical, so someone has to do it. It makes sense for your negotiating team and account managers to fill this growing void.
In most companies, when you ask an account manager or a member of the negotiating team to contact a C-Level Executive at their B2B account that they’ve never met at one of their accounts, they squirm. They squirm because this responsibility usually sits with your senior executives. There is an enormous gap between the opportunity to build senior executive relationships and the capacity of account managers to execute before, during and after successful negotiations.
Improving the confidence and capability of your negotiation teams and account managers are essential to increasing your success and agility to ‘festina lente’.