Managing Negotiations; For and Against

Managing Negotiations, for and against


An entrance of objectivity

You have called a meeting on the pretext of discussing price. You understand win/win, you have a plan set in place. You are confident your fall-back point is strong. To entertain any notion of losing is what the other guy does.  As you walk into the board room the ‘competition’ are seated in prayer over laptops. There are four of them and only one stands up. The other three pretend not to notice. The win/win is to build the foundation of a lasting business relationship. Trust is what you are looking for in any negotiation.

Your plan, as agreed by the Operations team, is to initiate a partnership so your company products can reach the biggest consumer base. For the right logistics company it would be a lucrative partnership. Consider, you have offered to do all the work on publicity, production, quota’s and packaging. They simply have to guarantee logistics, customs and insurance at a fair price. Your fall-back point is that there is one other partnership which is on offer from a much younger and smaller company. One that sounds eager for new business.

What isn’t said?

He stands and walks to you, extends his hand and in a loose grip turns your hand over. He places the other hand on your elbow. He gently pats your shoulder, looks you in the eye and offers a welcome with a non-committal smile. You may have a feeling of intimidation. A sense you are out of your depth. It is not the start you imagined.

He ushers you to the other side of the table. You pull out your chair and feel like they are lined up against you. You undo your jacket and give a nod to each as one-by-one they are introduced. He immediately advises you that their time is limited. You shrug as he points out that he doesn’t see how the compromise you have asked for on shipping costs is possible. He also advises there is no room to move on the one-off deposit required to signal commitment. A deposit is not a typical standard for the industry.

He catches the way you look at the three intense executives on their machines and nods, suggesting that they have many clients to attend too. He also reminds that time is limited and that it would be good to agree on these conditions and get the next stage of the logistics on the table. You now have an issue with trust. If this is what the company is like at the negotiation table what will they be like to deal with as a long-term partner?

Its all about the win!

The over bearing body language. The handshake, the pat on the shoulder. The us-against-them seating. The disinterest of the other three. The over-powering false importance of the laptop and the suggestion they have many clients to deal with. The initial comments that time is important. The position of their interests first and foremost. The conditions that are set out. You may be asking yourself who exactly is the client here? The poor choice of dialogue and props.

In this position you would use their objection to see how serious their need for business is. Time is limited. You latch onto it and take control. No need to rush, this is much too important to be limited by your availability, you are obviously stretched at the moment. It is a strong move to focus on time being the issue. You push for a far more flexible attitude. If not today at this meeting, then why don’t we decide when a decision should be reached? Let’s pick a time which suits you better.

You have made up your mind

Maybe you push the chair back from the table, giving yourself room. Maybe you pull out your phone and check for messages. Your silence after such a statement will be intolerable.  He may lean forward onto his elbows trying to reengage. You cross your legs and get comfortable. His next statement should confirm what you already knew, they are here to get a signature on a lucrative deal for them. You can flash a smile as he comes forward onto an elbow, his other hand on his waist.

It’s all about trust

Negotiation is a dynamic playground of planning, adaptability and a science of people skills. You know what you want, you have the win/win sketched out. You have your fall-back position. You will observe the body language, check the tone of voice, listen for statements that lead or confine you. You see the distractions and implications that are suggested. Your dialogue is consistent – what’s-in-it-for-them. The secret is to keep one small compromise you have until trust takes shape. Then when the deal is on table give them something that elicits trust. An enthusiasm that says yes, we are open for business that builds networks and proactive relationships. Its all about a love for doing great business. It just depends on what does a great business mean to you?

Service Customer-isation

Service Customer-isation

If delivery is the product, whether that be a physical object or a professional skill, then service is the vehicle that provides it. Service defines business. It is how our customers, clients and guests attach real-time value. The key component that sets us apart from our competitors. Typically business will focus on product and blend wholesale price, utilities and labour costs to match competitors. Then they will squeeze everything into stylish branding.

With the substantial investment thrown at public image it is no wonder that clients and customers are easily dissatisfied with their buying experience. Yet for those who customise their vehicle of service into something unique and spectacular, the rewards can be both far reaching and considerable.

The formula of ‘want’ and ‘need’

I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I was in the restaurant up to my elbows in a prep list big enough to cover the weekend off. It was a Friday morning just after 9am. The guest was in a frantic state. He wanted a table reserved for the evening. He had forgotten his wedding anniversary and was desperate to spoil his wife but also knew how busy we were at week-ends. We are his wife’s favourite restaurant. Could I help him?

I scour the reservations and reassure him that with a bit of juggling I can sort it. He goes from terrified to relieved. I will call him back in two hours to confirm. I put the phone down and focus on arranging flowers and champagne and something special for dessert. I phone him back at the arranged time. In a calm voice he says how grateful he is. He has had time to think and asks if I can arrange flowers and champagne. Question – should a guest or a client have to ask a professional to be considerate?

Anticipation or incarceration?

I had a call from my bank’s fraud division, specialists at electronic surveillance and bank security. My bank card had been hacked and my account suspended. Grateful that the funds are secure the concern I have is that I have weeks of work overseas coming up. I am financially stranded. I ask if the fraud division can offer suggestions or an alternative, they say no! I will have to wait a week for the new card to arrive in the post. I am distraught. Cancelling clients is against everything I stand for. I am now desperately trying to remember the workshop on conflict management.

After hours of searching online I discover android and apple pay. I call the bank back – could they call me with the new card number? I could then pay using my phone as a contactless point. They say it sounds like a good idea as they will have the new number in a day or so.

I’ve also discovered that I can use the Western Union app to transfer cash directly through currency exchange offices – found everywhere. The technological edge of a modern-day fraud division again confirm that it is a great idea. Would you call this ‘helpful banking’? Does your knowledge anticipate your client’s requirements, or does the lack of it incarcerate them?

Just another line.

In every aspect of business, how we present our service is the impact we make on our share of the market place. It is how brands are identified and valued. It is the opportunity that a client presents to us that will be our greatest marketing promotion.

Customer service training londonAnd most people know how to wield the power of social media. Going ‘viral’ has huge possibilities. Embracing it can encourage an unlimited supply of free marketing. An opportunity to use creativity from a sphere of customer loyalty. Whereas businesses throw vast sums at advertising, savvy clients can use their immense networks to neutralise and ridicule these expensive efforts.

Is it truly customers first, understanding needs and wants? Is your business polishing reputation on the badge of branding? Do you sincerely believe that service should exceed expectations? Or is your slogan just another line – to proudly promote or to be used as a punchline?