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Why are internal negotiations critical?
Without internally negotiated support and alignment:
- Resources will not be made available. How many sales reps in your organization seal an ambitious deal for a customer without checking internal capacity first? For example, an IT salesperson returns to headquarters to announce a deal to supply customized hardware to a regional buyer only to learn, "We wonít have the people to customize that equipment for at least 3 months." Whose problem is the resource shortfall?
- Implementation will falter. If youíve prepared for your external negotiation, you can get your customer to clearly identify her need. You and she may derive a great solution that integrates your capacity. However, after the contract is signed, what are the chances that three of your manufacturing functions will simultaneously develop new templates for your customer? What will the line managersí sense of urgency be if they have not been consulted in the process? Will the solution developed in your customerís conference room be the best solution on the shop floor?
- Resistance and the risk of sabotage increase. What account manager wants to announce that in order to cut costs in a new deal with a key provider, she has promised to match the providerís paperwork -- a series of triplicate documents run on unfamiliar software? What are the ramifications of your billing departmentís unwillingness to change? Whose problem is it?
- Team members will not speak with one voice. If individual priorities of a regulatory negotiating team have not been aligned prior to sitting down with a federal agency, what are the chances that the team will speak with one voice? Will the strategic goal for the product be clear among competing individual and functional concerns? What are the chances of persuading regulators of your productís intrinsic value and adherence to their standards?
- If you donít do it right, you are at risk of alienating your internal support base. You need them. No one does a deal alone -- it takes teamwork, solid team planning, and consistent communication. A maverick account manager, happy to operate independently, may be successful for a while, but even a successful maverick needs support when the going gets tough. Who wants to be the one begging for help after months or years of spurning the home base?
Each of these pitfalls can be avoided if the attention and techniques of successful external negotiations are proactively applied to internal negotiations as well. You can combine simple project planning techniques with ongoing internal negotiation to keep your internal support people informed. Give them a summary of the deal, and your estimation of who should be involved, what resources are appropriate and required and a timetable. Conduct an introductory meeting to introduce people to one another and develop early buy-in. Develop a simple Gantt chart; update it to show progress, early wins and how people relate to the overall progress. Each step of the way can be negotiated. This will build your internal momentum.
Who needs to focus on internal negotiations?
Anyone whose external agreements require internal support for implementation needs to give equal focus to internal negotiations as to external ones.
- Sales, customer service and procurement people who are points of contact for customer, supplier and provider relations;
- Business development people who must implement corporate strategy with sales channels and alliance partners;
- Account managers whose key accounts generate significant revenue and thus impact internal resource allocation; and
- Team leaders, particularly those whose cross-functional negotiating teams face external partners or competitors.
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Copyright © 2002 Richard Morse
Copyright © 2002, The Negotiator Magazine