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.

Fashion and Lingerie – The Present and Past

Lingerie is an integral part of every women’s wardrobe. Whether an undergarment, sexy attire, a fashion statement, or the answer to a comfortable night’s sleep, sexy and intimate lingerie is a part of feminine history, present and past.

Today, lingerie is part of every women’s attire, subtle or sexy. The choice is dependent upon her personality and purpose. Whether she wants to advertise her feminine attributes or simply have adequately supportive undergarments, department stores are filled with everyday generic lingerie. However, if a woman really wants to feel ultimately sexy and unique, she will choose to shop in stores totally dedicated to specialized lingerie and accessories.

Presently, to have lingerie, or not to have lingerie, is a personal choice. However, in the past, what a woman wears is much more than fashion. A lady’s social status depends on how she presents herself. For instance, in the feudal days, peasant women are not allowed to wear high heeled shoes. In fact, doing so is a criminal offense, not simply a blunder of social status.

In contrast, the social elite proudly wear high heels. Even some men don heeled shoes. Supposedly, in an effort to outdo each other, the aristocracy take great pains to have the most unique and personal heeled shoes created. While researching the subject, a picture is displayed of a woman with approximately two-foot heels. In all seriousness, the heels are so high she has to walk with canes in order to maintain balance. In addition, servants walk on either side of the woman to keep her steady and prevent a fall.

Nevertheless, despite the apparently utter stupidity of wearing shoes you are on capable of walking in, the era of the boned corset is not only insane, it has proved fatal. For example, the television show The Little House on the Prairie depicts a time when a slim waistline is the fashion, at all costs. You may have seen other westerns where women will actually brace themselves against another female to pull the corset even tighter.

Unfortunately, the practice is not only extremely uncomfortable, it can be lethal. The extremely tight undergarments will cause a lady to faint, simply because she does not have enough oxygen to her brain. Women are thought to be the frail gender, until a doctor discovers the problem.

Although a physician may recommend not wearing a corset at all, the fashion is to have a tiny waistline at all costs is not easily altered. Unfortunately, at least one case is reported of a woman whose corset is so tight, she impales her liver with one of the whalebones and succumbs to mortal injury.

In the past, a woman may not be able to breathe, her bust may be close to exploding, and she cannot walk independent of aid, but she sure is fashionable. In the present, thank goodness women have come to their senses. Feeling beautiful, feminine, and alluring is impossible when in pain. Fashions and sensual lingerie should be fun, sexy, alluring, playful, and pretty, yet remain comfortable.

Nervous? You Are Not Alone Presentation Tips From The Pros

Have you ever been asked to do a presentation for a large group of people you have never met?

Does this make you nervous? Well, you are not alone. Practically everybody, from executives to entry-level employees has the butterflies in their stomach over it. Here are some tips on making a presentation from the members of the National speakers Association.

Accept the fear and make it work for you. Most people cannot see your nervousness, so don’t even mention that you are. Use this adrenaline rush of nervous energy by turning it into lots of enthusiasm in your delivery.

Arrive early to your speech location. Do this so that you can check out the microphone, overhead projector or any other technical equipment you will be using. Get familiar with the room. This will put you more at ease before you begin your speech.

Do some deep breathing exercises – most professional speakers do this before their presentations. Shake your hands, do some movement exercise . . .just loosen up.

Speak on what you are passionate about and others need to hear. A passion for your subject will help to dissipate your nerves. “The audience will sense your passion and focus on your message – not your mistakes.

Speak, speak, speak. Speak often. Kill those nerves with lots of speaking experiences. The more you speak the more comfortable you will be with your audiences. It’s like going for the “gold.” Practice, practice, practice!

Know your topic and material. When you really know your stuff, your nerves will lessen. Do not memorize your speech. If you forget a portion, then you increase your stage fright. Just be familiar with your material and have a conversation with your audience.

Mingle with the audience before your speech. It’s helpful to meet and greet people as they come into the room. Then you will have made some new “friends” and be more comfortable with the people in the room.

Know your audience. Do your homework which includes research on the organization hosting your speech. Understand the challenges your audience faces and hit their hot buttons. You don’t want to make remarks that are not sensitive to your particular audience.

Focus on your audience. It is not about you. It is about them. Remember, you are the expert on your topic and have valuable material to share. Be there to help them understand your message and impact their lives in some way.

Prepare and rehearse. The more you practice, the better you will do. Practice for friends, in front of your mirror, for your colleagues. Talk your speech out loud while taking a walk. Remember to use your hand gestures and use facial expressions while you rehearse.