Sales Negotiators Know That The Devil Is In The Details

by drjim on January 20, 2012

The devil is in how you set up the negotiating room …

The devil is in how you set up the negotiating room …

What is it going to take to make your next sales negotiation work out the way that you want it to? Do you need to go buy a bunch of negotiating books to learn the latest negotiation styles or negotiating techniques? Do you need to bring in a hired gun? Or maybe all it will take is something so simple that it often gets overlooked – setting up the negotiating room correctly?

Sometimes It’s All About The Supplies

I know that you’d like to have a talk about the best way to seize and hold onto power in your next negotiation. However, long before you get to the point where you need to worry about who has the power, you first need to make sure that the room that you’ll be negotiating in is going to help you to reach the deal that you want to reach. It may not be a part of the negotiation definition, but it probably should be.

Although we generally focus the most on the details surrounding the actual negotiations themselves, it turns out that we really need to expand our thinking. What I’m saying here is that we need to spend some time thinking about lunch. And maybe dinner.

Studies have shown that we humans don’t do well if we try to work for long periods of time without taking a break. This holds true when we are negotiating. That means that both lunch and dinner breaks are necessary. That means that the big question is how are you going to get your hands on these meals? Will everyone go offsite? Will you have the meals brought in? It’s always important that both sides of the table can go off and eat by themselves – this is when some of the most important strategy work gets done.

Knowledge Is Power

It has always been my opinion that a negotiation is simply a specialized form of communication. What this means is that you need to find ways to grab and hold on to the other side of the table’s attention.

The room that you choose to negotiate in needs to help you to do this. Don’t let the layout of the room or how it forces people in it to sit to take attention away from the material that you’ll be presenting.

Which leads to my next point: make sure that you have everything that you need to make your presentation. Don’t plan on showing up and just presenting some PowerPoint slides. Assume that things will be unclear to the other side. Assume that you’ll end up having discussions about how your proposal can be modified to make it acceptable to the other side.

If this is going to happen, then you are going to have to be prepared. This means that you need to take the time to make sure that you’ll have all of the supplies that you’ll need before the negotiations begin: whiteboards, blackboards, markers, paper, copy machines, etc.

Finally, what does the lighting in the room look like? If it’s not up to the task, you and everyone else are going to find yourself in the dark – literally! Visit the site before the negotiations start and make sure that both the lighting and any audio systems are going to help, not hinder, your next negotiation.

One final note that I almost hesitate to bring up. However, it’s been an issue more times than I care to admit. Make sure that everyone involved in the negotiations knows where to go. All too often busy people make assumptions about where the negotiations will be held and they end up showing up at the wrong location – perhaps even the wrong city!

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators it can be all too easy to get lost when we are looking for a way to make our next negotiation process work out the way that we want it to. This idea is a great idea; however, all too often we end up focusing on the wrong things. Instead, as part of conducting a principled negotiation, we should spend some time thinking about how the room that we’ll be negotiating in will be set up.

Things that we need to keep an eye on include making sure that when breaks occur, there are places to eat nearby. Making sure that it will be easy for both sides to focus on the material being presented as well as making sure that everything that you’ll need in order to explain positions and document your progress is available. Finally, make sure that everyone knows where the negotiations will be held – don’t waste time waiting for people to show up!

In negotiations, as in life, more often than not it’s the little things that determine how what we’ve negotiated turns out in the end. If you take the time to make sure that where your next negotiation is going to be held is set up to support you, then you’ll be that much closer to successfully reaching a deal.

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

Question For You: What do you think is better – eating onsite or going offsite for meals while negotiating?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When I’m working with negotiators who are trying to become better, they always ask me what the secret to moving to the next level is. For years I always told them that there was no “silver bullet” that would allow them to make the jump. It was just going to take a lot of hard work.

Lately I’ve decided that I’ve been wrong. It turns out that there is one thing that any negotiator can do that will allow him or her to move up to the next level. This secret turns out to be something that all of us should be doing anyway. In fact I think that it should really be part of the negotiation definition: planning the negotiation.

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