Why The Standard Answer Can Help A Negotiator Close The Deal

by drjim on December 2, 2011

Standards Can Be A Negotiator's Best Friend

Standards Can Be A Negotiator’s Best Friend

Magical mind control powers. That’s what every sales negotiator would like to have. The ability to bend the other side of the table’s mind to your way of thinking would be the set of negotiation styles or negotiating techniques that would make life so much easier. Sadly, I don’t believe that such powers exist. However, there is something that comes pretty close – standards.

What Standards Are And Where You Can Find Them

So right off the bat I guess we should tackle the big question: just what the heck is a “standard”? Standards are documented ways of going about doing something that were created by someone else. Note that I didn’t say that a standard is recognized as an official source by anyone in particular nor did I say that it was created by a person who is well regarded in a particular field. Don’t worry, using standards is still a part of conducting a principled negotiation!

A standard is simply that: documentation about something. The important thing from your point of view is that during a negotiation when you introduce a standard into the discussion that both sides start to treat the standard as the ultimate source of information. Using standards should almost be considered part of the negotiation definition.

If you are preparing for a negotiation and you find that there is no existing standard that will support your position, then it may be time for you to create your own standard. Even if you don’t create the standard, you can at least have someone within your company create it for you. Remember that who creates a standard doesn’t really matter, it’s just the simple fact that the standard exists that gives it its power.

How To Use Standards To Get Your Way In A Negotiation

Once you have the standards that you’re going to need in order to conduct a successful negotiation, you need to understand how to use them as part of the negotiation process. The real power from a standard comes from the fact that it now equips you with legitimacy.

During the negotiations you can refer to the standards and say things like “I’ve got to stay within these standards, that’s what my management has told me to do.” The other side of the table might not like this, but what can they do?

Just by having a standard, you can make it easier for the other side to agree to go along with the proposals that you are making. The standards provide you with an air of legitimacy and they help to guide the other side to reaching the decision that you really want them to make.

What All Of This Means For You

As a negotiator you are always looking for new ways to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the other side of the table. You really want to find ways to make your way of seeing the world their way too so that a negotiated deal is that much easier to reach.

Standards that you bring to the table can provide you with the support that you are looking for. These standards don’t have to be fancy internationally recognized standards. Standards that have been developed by your company (perhaps just for this negotiation!) often have as much weight. Simply by having a standard, you can reduce the amount of push-back that the other side will give to your proposals.

Take the time to plan your next negotiation. Look for ways to boost your position by the introduction of one or more standards. When the time is right, bring them to the table and defer to them. You may be amazed at just how powerful the right standard at the right time can be!

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

Question For You: What do you have to do to make an internal standard be accepted as legitimate by the other side?

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