Framing your proposal can determine if the other side accepts it

Framing your proposal can determine if the other side accepts it
Image Credit: John Piercy

The goal of any negotiation that we participate in is to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques tofind a way to get the other side to agree to our proposal. There are a lot of different ways that we can go about trying to make this happen. We can beg, we can threaten, we can bribe, we can entice. However, it turns out that one of the most important things that we can do is to present our proposal in a way that will make the other side want to go along with it. This is called framing and it’s a critical part of any negotiation.

What Is Framing?

So just exactly what is this negotiating tactic that we call framing? As a negotiator, what you need to realize is that you may have just placed the best offer in the world on the table in front of the other side of the table. However, they may not be able to see it for how great it is. The reason for this is because it matters how you go about framing your offer when you present it. How you frame your offer will affect how the other side views it.

As an example of this, in a negotiation people generally attempt to resist a compromise when they are framed as a loss instead of a gain. Offering a job candidate an increase over what they were expecting is always better than offering them a decrease from what they were expecting. Taking the time to stress what the other party would gain rather than lose is an important form of framing in a negotiation.

You Must Offer Manageable Choices

Just exactly how many choices for a solution does the other side want you to present them with? As a negotiator, all too often we believe that it is our responsibility to provide the other side with a wide range of options so that they can select the one that best matches what they are trying to accomplish. It turns out that we are probably wrong.

A number of different studies have been done and they have all shown the same thing. In a negotiation, people actually welcome fewer rather than more choices. What this means for us is that the other side can become so overwhelmed by available options that deciding not to make any decision at all can be a relief to them. This means that when you are framing how you want to present your proposal, you need to keep in mind that the other side may say they want as many choices as possible, but may feel overwhelmed if you present them with too many.

It’s Important To Make Multiple Offers

If we can agree that presenting the other side with too many options may cause them to freeze up, what then is the correct number of options to present? Once again, studies have shown that the correct number of options to present is three. People that you are negotiating with will respond well to this number of options.

During a negotiation, when you present multiple equivalent simultaneous offers, also known as “MESOs”, you are showing other parties the issues that are the most important to you. Their reactions to your proposals will tell you about their priorities. Working together, you can craft an agreement that accounts for everyone’s most important interests. The use of MESOs give negotiators the choice they desire without the risk of decision paralysis.

Rejection Is Part Of The Game

How do you feel about having your offer rejected during a negotiation? Perhaps you need to get over that! In negotiating, there is a concept called the “contrast effect”. What this means is that if you have made a proposal to the other side that they rejected, you can then follow up with a more reasonable proposal that they may end up accepting.

When we are using framing in a negotiation, the contrast effect suggests a strategic move: Ask for more than you realistically expect, accept the rejection when it comes, and then shade your next offer downward. The other side is likely to find a reasonable offer even more appealing after rejecting an offer that was out of the question.

What All Of This Means For You

During a principled negotiation, it turns out that the offer that you make to the other side may not determine if they accept or reject it. Instead, how you make that offer to them may hold the key to your success. How you present your proposal is called framing and if done correctly you can get the other side to accept it.

Framing has to do with the how the other side views your proposal. During a negotiation we need to keep in mind that the other side can become overwhelmed if we present them with too many choices. We need to limit the number of options that we present them with to around three. Presenting multiple equivalent simultaneous offers shows them what is important to you. Their reaction will show you what is important to them. You need to be able to use the contrast effect to allow your first proposal to be rejected so that your follow on proposal will be seen as more acceptable.

We know that the proposal that we are going to be placing before the other side during a negotiation is a good proposal. That’s why we want them to accept it. However, if we’re not careful how we present it may cause them to reject it. Taking the time to carefully frame your proposal will allow you to get the other side to see it your way and accept it.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: When you are going to make multiple offers to the other side, should you make them all at once or spread them out over time?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

There are some negotiating situations that we can find ourselves in that are trickier than other. For example, if you were negotiating the lease of a warehouse for yourself but you though that someone else might come along in the future and offer to pay more than you to the landlord, you wouldn’t want to get asked to move at a time that was inconvenient for you. In order to prevent this, you could have a right of first refusal baked into your contract that would allow you to match any higher offer that your landlord was offered so that you didn’t have to move. Just exactly how does this right of first refusal thing work?

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The Art Of Dealing With A Sole Supplier

by drjim on November 2, 2018

Your options are limited when you are dealing with a sole supplier

Your options are limited when you are dealing with a sole supplier
Image Credit: Brendan Riley

If you view starting a negotiation as going into battle, then you’d like to be able to start things off being balanced. Neither side should have too much of an advantage, both should show up ready to do battle on a level playing field using their own set of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. However, as always seems to be the case in life, things don’t always work out this way. In the world of negotiations you can find yourself at a distinct disadvantage right off the bat if you are negotiating with someone who is your sole supplier for a given product or service. What’s a negotiator to do now?

Setting Up A Sole Supplier Negotiation

So right off the bat we need to understand what we are dealing with when we find ourselves negotiating with someone who is one of our sole suppliers. We will have a poor BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and this is going to end up putting us in a position of weakness. This means that even before the negotiations start, we’ve got work to do. Since we don’t have a lot of alternatives, we’re going to have to control what alternatives the other side has.

You are going to want to set the negotiation up to favor you. This is going to involve making sure that you involve the parties that will be impacted by the negotiations, that you make sure that during the negotiations the right sets of issues are going to be discussed, and you are going have to make sure that the right outside alternatives are known. If you can accomplish this, then you will have increased the odds that the sole supplier that you’ll be negotiating with will view the agreement that you put on the table as being more attractive than any alternatives that they may have.

Focusing On Interests

One of the first things that you are going to want to accomplish once the negotiations have started is to identify who you are really negotiating with. This means that you need to ask questions of the other side in order to determine who the parties within the other side’s organization are who may be affected by any agreement that they reach with you. It’s going to be their interests that will be driving the other side.

You can get the answers to these questions by doing some probing of the other side. How will their sales team be rewarded and even promoted? Who is going to be responsible for approving the negotiation agreement on the other side? How are the approvers going to be rewarded? One of the most powerful things that you’ll need to determine is if there is any way for you to create a coalition of parts of the other side that would be in a position to support any agreement that you can reach.

Evaluate The Other Side’s Alternatives

When you are negotiating with a sole supplier, you really don’t have all that many alternatives available to you. However, the other side does. What you are going to have to as a part of your negotiation strategy is to take the time to evaluate the other side’s alternatives.

What you are going to want to determine is how things could play out based on the results of this negotiation. There is no guarantee that the two of you are going to be able to reach an agreement even though they may be one of your sole suppliers. What is this going to mean for the other side? You need to understand how the other side would be affected if they were not able to get your business. Losing you as a customer would defiantly impact their bottom line. You need to determine if the loss of you could somehow be replaced by other customers.

Round One

It’s going to be important that you take the long view as you enter into this negotiation. What that means for you is that this particular negotiation is only round one in a much longer game. This means that there are a number of questions that you are going to have to find the answers to.

The questions include determining how much less you would pay the supplier if in the future they had competition. What would the present value of those payments be? Keeping the long term in mind, how much would it cost you to bring in another supplier or reengineer for a substitute product? You are going to have to determine if the benefits of having a better alternative exceed the cost of getting it. If this is the case, then it makes sense for your firm to invest now in order to create competition before the next negotiation.

What All Of This Means For You

No negotiator wants to find themselves in a situation where they are facing off against someone who is one of their sole suppliers. It’s all too easy for a negotiator to feel as though they are powerless in a situation like this. The good news is that we are not powerless, we just need to understand what we need to do.

If you want to be successful in this type of principled negotiation, then you are going to have to set things up for success from the beginning. You need to make sure that the right people are there and that the right issues are going to be discussed. Once the negotiations start, you need to find out who on the other side is really going to be calling the shots. Who will this negotiation impact? Although you may not have many alternatives when you are negotiating with a sole supplier, you need to take the time to find out what their alternatives are. Finally, you need to view this negotiation as being round one of a much longer set of negotiations. Determine how you are going to be successful in the long run.

The good news about negotiating with a sole supplier is that you do have options. You need to do your homework and make sure that you use the negotiation to get answers to the questions that you need to know. Taking the time to structure a sole source negotiation correctly can get you the results that you thought were unobtainable.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Once you know who will really be making the decisions for the other side, should you insist that they take a place at the table?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The goal of any negotiation that we participate in is to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques tofind a way to get the other side to agree to our proposal. There are a lot of different ways that we can go about trying to make this happen. We can beg, we can threaten, we can bribe, we can entice. However, it turns out that one of the most important things that we can do is to present our proposal in a way that will make the other side want to go along with it. This is called framing and it’s a critical part of any negotiation.

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