Unlocking a Successful Negotiation Strategy

Are you approaching all your commercial negotiations with a standard approach? Should you only use a win/win approach to negotiations?

Traditionally, negotiated outcomes can be classified into one of the following categories:

  • Lose/Lose (all parties lose)
  • Win/Lose (I win and you lose)
  • Lose/Win (I lose and you win)
  • Win/Win (we both win – could also be described as compromise)
  • Win More/Win More (we unlock synergies – could also be described as being collaborative)

Whilst I agree with the notion that a win/win approach is the only sustainable way to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace, it is well worth considering the practical application of this approach in today’s global marketplace. It would be short sighted to conclude that all negotiations are made equally and should therefore be approached in the same way.

It would be similar to say that one nation’s culture & beliefs are the appropriate culture and therefore the standards that apply to that culture should be applied in interacting with people across the world, irrespective of their background.

Guns OR Butter

There is another dimension within the context of commercial negotiations that should be considered – the old economic dilemma of ‘guns or butter’. The ‘guns or butter’ story illustrates that with limited resources, organisations and individuals are forced to make choices. In order to have more butter, one must sacrifice guns and vice versa.

In a practical sense this means that resources can only be allocated in relation to the relative strategic importance of the activity at issue. In the case of negotiations that are considered strategic in importance to the organisation, we are more likely to pursue a collaborative or compromising approach.

Conversely, when we deem the outcome of certain negotiations to have a limited impact or no impact at all on the achievement of strategic organisational objectives we could decide to be competitive in our approach or even to avoid negotiation completely. We would not be responsible stewards of corporate resources if we were to approach all negotiations in a similar fashion.

Collaborative Approach

There is also a philosophical dimension to the approach to negotiation pursued by many organisations. Some organisations are renowned for their collaborative approach to doing business whilst others have a reputation for a mercenary approach to conducting business. Some players in the retail sector have reputations of dealing ruthlessly with suppliers – they rationalise the approach by arguing that it is in the interest of the consumer.

Whilst I agree that this approach is short sighted and probably not sustainable in the long run, it would be naïve not to recognise the fact that, at least commercially speaking, a lot of organisations have little interest in collaborative or compromising type negotiations within certain departments.

It is interesting to note that whilst most organisations pride themselves on providing ‘solutions’ to the issues confronting their clients, a significant proportion of their so called negotiations actually revolve around haggling about price. I have no doubt that there is a sincere intention to engage on a solution based principle it just seems that this is much easier said than done where the rubber hits the road. A lot of the time companies’ stated intentions to engage on a win/win based principle is similar to the new year’s resolutions so many of us make every year.

Negotiation Strategy

There is scant chance of us achieving our resolutions without putting in place a supporting plan and taking action to achieve our goals. Many organisations lack a clear organisational negotiation strategy & process which exposes them to the risks associated with a huge variance in the results of their negotiated agreements.

Organisations and individuals should recognise that collaborative negotiation demands the investment of significant resources. In order for us to be truly collaborative, we have to spend much time getting to know each other. In a commercial context, this plainly does not make sense in some cases. Consider the purchase of a pure commodity such as paper for a small or medium sized organisation – if there are no value added services presented or required, it would be sub optimal to pursue a collaborative relationship with the provider of such a commodity. It would make more sense to pursue a competitive approach to the procurement of paper than a collaborative or even compromising approach.

In practise, many organisations would approach the purchase of paper or stationery in a way where they would request multiple quotations and award the business to the lowest bidder. As a matter of fact, in some cases no negotiation at all would take place. An interesting note here is that this does not mean that the paper supplier has lost as a result of this transaction – they have won the order, but the telling thing is that we were not really interested in their interests at all; we were only focused on our desired objectives. So pursuing a win/lose strategy in this example has not really resulted in a loss for the supplier, but it does mean that we were not really interested in their desired outcomes.

The flip side of this example is that if you are selling commodity type products, you have to realise that before you will be in a position to negotiate, you must create for yourself a base to do this from – hence the move towards providing solutions.

5 EFFECTIVE NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES

How then do we decide which negotiation strategy to follow? Within a commercial context, the following negotiation strategy options are available to us:

  • Avoiding negotiation altogether.
  • Engaging in a competitive negotiation where we seek to achieve our goals aggressively.
  • Engaging in an accommodating negotiation where we seek to satisfy only the needs of our counterparty to the exclusion of our own needs
  • Using a compromising approach where we seek to satisfy some of our needs and interests and some of the needs and interests of our counterparty.
  • Deploying a collaborative negotiation approach where we seek to satisfy all our needs and interests in addition to satisfying all the needs and interests of our counterparty.

The negotiation strategy that is appropriate will be determined by your answers to the following two questions:

  • How strong are my alternatives to this particular negotiation?
  • How important is a long term relationship in the context of this negotiation?

It follows that in many cases, buyers would be pursuing an approach where they are avoiding negotiation or being competitive and sellers would like to be compromising or collaborative. How then to deal with this situation?

A key part of the negotiation preparation process should be focused on trying to understand your counterparties needs, interests and objectives. This will assist you in identifying the likely negotiation strategy that they will be pursuing. If your counterparty is avoiding a negotiation, you can be sure that your organisation is not being viewed as a contributor of competitive advantage to your counterparty’s organisation.

Your challenge would in the 1st instance be to reconsider the way that your products and services are packaged. The aim should be to add to the achievement of the strategic business objectives of your counterparty by identifying the components of your offering that matches their strategic needs.

If you find yourself at the wrong end of a competitive negotiation, it would serve you well to be familiar with the most often used negotiation tactics as you will most certainly be confronted with a tactical approach. Unless you are well versed in negotiation tactics, it will be difficult for you to maximise the value that you will be able to extract from the negotiation as there is no sincere interest on the part of your counterparty to satisfy any of your needs or interests.

Who Should Present Your Corporate Video?

Choosing a presenting style is no easy task. Should you use one of your staff, a professional presenter or get your clients to do the talking? The presenter is usually the first person the viewer sees or hears – so it’s important to chose the right person. To assist in your decision, we’ve compared the benefits of three styles of corporate video presenting.

Using one of your own

You don’t have to be a famous celebrity or professional TV personality to present a video. A knowledgeable member of staff can be very compelling:

• The viewer will associate the company with the face, voice and body language of the presenter, thus the presenter will act as the brand.

• Nobody knows a company better than its staff, the message you wish to convey may be industry specific and a member of staff will tell your story best.

• A good option for companies on a strict budget.

• Suitable to a promotional style or ‘how to’ video that will be uploaded to the company website, sent to prospective employees and used in trade-shows etc.

Remember, this route is only a success if the presenter is a confident public speaker. If every senior member of staff in your company is camera shy, the next option may be more suitable for your company.

Bring the professionals in

This is the most commonly used option when making corporate video. You can choose an actor, regional news reporter or even a celebrity. The benefits include:

• Professionalism, warmth and engagement, authority and an interaction with the viewer. A presenter can deliver a script in a natural and engaging way.

• Suitable for a report on what the company does or a news item.

• It is a good way to show and promote new developments within a company to prospective business partners or as a training video for future and current employees.

• Ideal for the promo-style piece.

Let your clients do the talking

The third option is the client testimonial. Who better to promote your company than happy clients?

• Your video would consist of a montage of shots of your customers singing your praises.

• This will build customer trust and so lead to increased sales.

• The client testimonial has a greater impact on potential clients than the company talking about itself – this is often the best promotion a company can get.

With a little thought and planning video can achieve extraordinary results, but it needs a customer focused approach and careful planning.

3 Essentials to Developing Powerful Presentations – Part 2

Powerful presentations are vital to building your credibility when communicating with colleagues, senior leaders, board members, clients, or staff. In Part 1 of this article, I focused on the preparation phase, and action steps that need to be taken in advance to ensure success. The next two phases include the presentation itself, and feedback to refine your skills following the presentation.

Presentation (Your Delivery during the Meeting)

It’s OK to be nervous. However, the best way to overcome nervousness is to be prepared and know your topic better than anyone else. Eventually the nerves will subside.

Speak clearly and with confidence. Pace yourself, so as not to speak too fast or too slow – because both drive audiences crazy. If you have difficulty enunciating certain words, do not use them. Also, be careful not to speak in a monotone manner; it will put people to sleep.

Be mindful of your body language. A genuine smile is a great way to warm a group up, so be very conscientious of your facial expressions throughout your presentation. Your body language should be relaxed to convey confidence, and throughout your presentation be sure to scan the room with positive eye contact and a periodic smile. If your eyes focus solely on your presentation notes or the PowerPoint slides on the projection screen throughout the entire presentation you will lose the audience, and you will not be able to assess whether they are embracing your message or are board stiff. Also be extremely mindful of your posture and hand gestures. Remember, not only is the audience listening to you – but they are also looking at you.

Make your presentation memorable. Start with a strong opening, typically interesting facts and figures are a good way to get the audience stirred, or with a little taste of humor. Next, make sure you have an impactful middle — this is where your knowledge and expertise of the subject matter will make all of the difference. Don’t lose the audience with too many big words, but at the same time don’t talk down to the audience. There is a fine line between a presenting your information with confidence and finesse, and totally missing an opportunity to “wow” your audience. Prior to closing your presentation, allow a few minutes to take a few questions. And, if asked a question that you cannot answer, don’t fake it. Respond appropriately indicating that you will find out and get back with them a.s.a.p. Most important, end with a memorable closing, usually a great supporting quote helps round off your presentation.

Walk the room. When presenting to small groups, using the opportunity to walk around the room is extremely effective. Periodically gaze across the entire room, using positive eye contact and smiling as often as possible to convey a sense of confidence. Of course, walking the ballroom is not effective if you are presenting to a large group in the 100′s because then everyone cannot see you. In these instances, stay on the stage or at the front of the room, periodically pacing from one side to the other to keep everyone’s attention. When presenting to large groups, I always prefer and request a wireless microphone for this very reason.

Be mindful of the time. If there is a clock in the room, periodically glance at it to ensure you stay within your allotted timeframe. I have been in meetings where the speaker went over their allocated time and participants started leaving. My suggestion, respect people’s time. That’s why handouts are so helpful. If you are running out of time, you can always advise participants to review the handouts later for more details.

Feedback for Refinement (After the Meeting)

Solicit audience feedback. The manner in which you solicit feedback depends on the audience you are presenting to. When I’m facilitating a training workshop, I always handout participant feedback forms. When I am presenting to small groups, I usually speak with the meeting planner afterwards to get their feedback on the effectiveness of my presentation and suggestions for improvement.

Use feedback to improve your skills. It’s tough accepting constructive criticism and feedback when you have worked so hard preparing for a presentation or to facilitate a training workshop. However, you must take it all in stride and use what you learn to improve your presentation style. If you continue to hear the same criticism over-and-over again (you use your hands to much, you pace too much, you let the audience take control too much, you didn’t use eye contact with the audience, etc.) then it is a chronic blind-spot that you need to work on eliminating. It’s OK to be sensitive, but use this type of feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow over time. When you begin to hear the same criticisms less over time, you’ll know that you have mastered them.

In closing, my list of tips for a powerful presentation is not all inclusive. However, hopefully it has gotten your creative juices going and in the future you will consider some of these tips to improve your presentation skills. There hundred of other tips to help you improve. I give hundreds of presentations each year, but I still review books and other self-help resources to refine my skills. Believe me, your first, second, or maybe even fiftieth presentation will not be perfect – but the more you do over time the more confident you will become.