The Negotiator Magazine

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2. Are my employees clear on the desired outcome of a particular negotiation?

Many negotiators make the mistake of going for one desired outcome. As a result, this changes the frame from an interest (WHY we want something) to a position (WHAT we want). Having three or more acceptable outcomes allows the frame of the negotiation to stay on interests, or joint problem solving.

Each outcome can also have options. Expanding the pie to include things that can help move the negotiation to joint problem solving also needs to be considered prior to the meeting. "What if we did this....?"

3. Do your employees know when it is OK to walk away from a deal, and is this supported within your company? Do your negotiators fear losing the relationship and stay in the negotiation past the "walk away point"?

In many cases, the culture of the organization is such that negotiators fear coming back without a deal. Worse, they have a goal they want or need to hit and if they can negotiate something better than that, the result is rewarded. The problem with this approach is that it sets up the process to be oriented toward "win-lose" positional bargaining. This can create significant levels of customer turnover. Having to find new customers is very expensive.

Planning out the process helps the negotiator see the potential outcomes, the options available, and the items available for trade. This provides the negotiator with the flexibility to know where they stand. Skilled negotiators know how to gracefully back out while leaving the relationship intact.

Unplanned and unmonitored negotiations can result in unacceptable outcomes and trading without reciprocity. They can also result in outcomes that are worse than the best alternative.

4. Are your employees clear on why they are negotiating? Do they know their BATNA?

The BATNA is simply defined as what you could have done had no negotiation taken place. The question that should be answered is, "What can or will we do if we cannot come to an agreement?"

The purpose of negotiations is to see if you can get interests met via an agreement with another party, versus this best alternative.

Planning allows your negotiators to clearly identify the outcomes and the alternatives. Many times, negotiators, without identifying these outcomes and alternatives come to agreements worse than the best alternative.

5. Are the results from negotiations reviewed for effectiveness?

Not only is it important to review results to provide feedback to the negotiator, but anything learned from the negotiation should be shared with everyone.

Match the negotiated results to the previously identified outcomes. Track performance of these outcomes to the performance of the transaction. This will provide a direct line from planning, to the negotiation, to the financial performance of the deal to ensure that the assumptions used to formulate the plan were accurate.

The ability of your employees entrusted to negotiate the buying and selling of goods and services controls your ability to produce profitable results. Highly effective negotiators are able to develop closer relationships with customers and suppliers. They make the process of negotiating mutually beneficial, which makes the relationship more rewarding for both parties.

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