What Long Term Relationships Mean To Negotiators

Long term relationships are a part of almost every negotiation
Long term relationships are a part of almost every negotiation
Image Credit: mopics80

The exciting part of a negotiation is in the beginning. You know the part: everyone’s sitting at the same table, there are a number of different issues that have to be worked out, but everyone is eager to see if they are going to be able use their negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to reach a deal with the other side. What we can too easily forget is that this is just one part of a much larger picture. Once the negotiation is over and the deal is in place, that’s when the relationship really starts. Due to our skills in negotiating, we can find ourselves involved in a number of different long term relationships. Will we know what to do when this happens?

Managing A Long Term Relationship

As negotiators, we go to a lot of effort in order to reach a deal with the other side. The creation of this deal is what starts our relationship with them. If both sides are willing to keep up their part of the deal, then the relationship will continue and may eventually turn into a long term relationship.

What negotiators often don’t realize is that we have a responsibility for maintaining the relationship with the other side even long after the negotiations are over and done with. We will generally pay a great deal of attention to the other side immediately after we have reached a deal with them. However, just like in a relationship, over time we can start to pay less and less attention to them. When this happens, the other side will eventually grow unhappy with us. This does not necessarily mean that they will leave us. Yet.

In order to leave you, the other side has to finally get around to dealing with the task of sitting down and negotiating with someone else. When these types of relationships come to an end, there is generally a common reason. Neglect. You simply didn’t take enough time to make sure that the other side was happy with the way that the deal that had been negotiated was being carried out. Note that when the other side becomes upset with how you are treating them, this opens the door for someone else to come in and start to negotiate with them.

Benefits Of Long Term Relationships

Negotiating is hard work. As negotiators we need to take a step back and realize that the more long term relationships that we can get our companies involved in, the better things will turn out for us. One of the things that we need to realize is that if the deal that we’ve reached with the other side provides them with a product or service that they need and we are able to deliver it reliably, then there will be no reason for them to change. It is convenient for them to do business with us. You are low risk so they’ll keep coming back to you.

In order to successfully negotiate with somebody, you really want to know as much about them as you possibly can. When you are involved in a long term relationship with somebody, this is easy to do. Because you’ve known them for some time, you’ll have a good understanding of their organization at every level. When it comes time to negotiate with them again, you’ll be in an advantageous position as you use your knowledge of their organization to get the best deal possible.

There is a real power in having a long term relationship with the other side. What happens over time is that they will become more and more dependent on you. You have made it quick and easy for them to place an order with you. There is generally no explanation required regarding anything that you provide to them. If they need to have a change made to the way that things are being done, you can generally accommodate that change easily. Everything can be handled because it’s been handled so many times before.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators, we tend to focus on the starting point for a relationship with the other side: the actual principled negotiations . However, we really need to be taking a look at the much larger picture in which we consider the long term relationship that we are entering into with the other side of the table.

Long term relationships are tricky things to manage correctly. The way that one of these relationships is created is that we reach a deal with the other side, both sides live up to their agreements, and the relationship is born. A long term relationship requires our time and attention in order to be maintained. If you don’t take the time to make sure that the other side is still happy, they will eventually leave you. However, you want to maintain as many long term relationships as you can because they benefit you. Once entered, the other side will rarely want to leave a long term relationship. These types of relationships allow us to learn a great deal about the other side’s organization. A long term relationship can make the other side dependent on you.

It would be nice if we could negotiate with somebody, reach a deal with them, and then just move on. However, just as in real life, this is simply the start of a much longer relationship that we’ve signed up for. Make sure that you spend enough time on your long term relationships to keep all involved parties happy with them. The benefits of long term relationships make them well worth the time that you put into maintaining them!

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

Question For You: If someone that you have a long term relationship with starts to leave you, what steps can you take to retain them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We’ve all been there. We’ve been working on a negotiation with the other side for what now seems like forever. We’ve worked our way through issue after issue using all of our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques and we now believe that they’ve all been resolved to both side’s satisfaction. Both sides have been careful to keep all of the necessary parties informed on how the negotiations have been going and so we are now expecting smooth sailing from here on out. Everything gets typed up, both sides get their copy to sign. However, the other side pauses. All of a sudden they start to feel some remorse.