Negotiators Know How To Get A Deal Into Shape

by drjim on October 11, 2012

Image CreditNegotiators need to get a deal in shape before an agreement can be reached

Negotiators need to get a deal in shape before an agreement can be reached

So there you are, you’ve just presented what you think should be an acceptable deal to the other side of the table and yet it doesn’t look like they are going to go for it. What gives? Experienced negotiators know that sometimes during negotiations the other side of the table can be made to agree to a deal if only you know how to change the shape of the deal that you are proposing to them…

What’s Wrong With Your Proposal?

How a proposal looks to you may not be the same way that it looks to the other side of the table – this has nothing to do with negotiation styles or negotiating techniques and everything to do with what is being negotiated. One reason for this is that you have a particular timeframe that you are thinking about when you consider this deal; however, that timeline may not match the way that the other side of the table sees the world.

If you were able to reach an agreement with the other side, then you might want to jump in and get the deal moving quickly. They, on the other hand, might be thinking about all of the other things that they have going on and they might want to take things slower.

When the other side has a different schedule than you do, your ability to reach a deal with them is put at risk. The good news is that experienced negotiators realize this and are able to adapt their proposal to resolve this issue.

How Do You Change The Shape Of A Deal?

When the timeline of a deal is causing the other side of the table to hesitate in agreeing to it, it becomes your responsibility to take control of the negotiation process and change the proposal’s “time shape”. What this means is that you’ll make changes to when and even perhaps how a deal will get done. This could be as simple as either making it so that all of the work happens quickly after the deal is agreed to or that it happens slowly over time.

One thing that every negotiator needs to realize is that any time that you propose a change to the time shape of a deal, the other side has to sit up and pay attention. Your changes will modify the risk / reward characteristics of the deal and they need to evaluate if it has suddenly become a better (or worse) deal for them.

Keep in mind that how long it takes to do a job is only one of the many deal characteristics that can be changed. You can also modify the sequence in which the work is done. Making either of these types of changes can turn a deadlocked negotiation into a successful deal.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

When the other side of the table is considering a proposal that you’ve made to them, they may be rejecting it for the wrong reasons. They may have no problem with what you are proposing; it’s the shape of the deal that might be putting them off. There’s nothing in the negotiation definition that will tell you how to deal with this kind of situation.

What this mean for you as a negotiator is that you need to get clever at changing the shape of your deal. This may have something to do with when the work gets done. Changing the time shape of when the deal is performed can completely change how the other side of the table looks at the deal. Good news – this all fits within what we consider to be a principled negotiation.

Experienced negotiators know that once the other side of the table becomes interested in your proposal, the next step is for you to make sure that the shape of the deal meets their needs. Play around with when the work gets done and you just might find yourself with a signed contract!

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

Question For You: Should you offer to change the time shape of the deal that you’ve proposed, or should you wait for the other side to suggest it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the end, just about every negotiation comes down to one thing: money. You would think that we could all agree on just exactly what this thing that we call money looks like, but there you would be wrong. Forget everything that you’ve learned about different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. Instead for just a moment, focus on the money — it turns out that money has a shape, and this shape might be what is keeping us from reaching a deal with the other side of the table during negotiations. Let’s talk about how we can change the shape of money…

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