“When will they get back with me?” he asked. “I sent my proposal three weeks ago and haven’t heard anything. (My counterpart) told me everyone was on board with the idea and they were anxious to start. Now nothing.”
“What should I do?”
This question, from a consulting client of mine, involved a career deal for him with a large organization.
Here was my advice for him, advice that applies to all who negotiate big deals with large organizations.
• Negotiate strategically.
It’s especially critical to strategically negotiate here based on proven research-based methods because it’s a significant deal and your counterpart has likely taken some negotiation training.
At the least, get up-to-speed on the basic negotiation strategies and tactics, including my Five Golden Rules (1. Information is Power – So Get It; 2. Maximize Your Leverage; 3. Employ “Fair” Objective Criteria; 4. Design an Offer-Concession Strategy; and 5. Control the Agenda).
These Golden Rules provide the structure for your strategic negotiation plan. As you plan, especially focus on the following.
• Get strategic intelligence about your counterpart.
Organizations use different negotiation strategies. So find out your counterparts’ reputations and styles (for the company and the individual across the table from you).
• Typical strategies and tactics they use (including good cop/bad cop and delay tactics).
• Standard elements and provisions usually included in your types of deal.
• Its internal steps and process needed to finalize the deal (Does finance and/or legal need to sign off?).
• The normal time period it takes to negotiate that type of deal.
• When they close many deals (some rush to close at quarter or year-end).
You can get some of this intelligence from your counterpart, especially if you have a good relationship with them. Or seek this out independently, perhaps from an industry expert or from those who have previously negotiated with that company.
• Develop an internal champion.
It often takes substantial time and the support of several individuals and/or departments for large corporations to sign off on significant deals. This makes your development of an internal champion there critical.
So target and grow the relationship with your internal champion and empower them to act as your proxy in negotiating internally with their colleagues.
• Exhibit patience.
These deals take time, yet many of us just want to get these deals done. Pushing too fast, though, can be counterproductive. So show patience, whether you feel it or not.
Ten years ago I signed a deal that doubled my revenue from the previous year. The negotiation took six months. But we had a strategic plan and kept nurturing it along. Finally, in December, when that firm’s training department had money in its budget that would have reverted to its general fund if it wasn’t spent, we signed the deal.
It took some time for my consulting client’s counterpart to respond. But he eventually did. In most cases, so will yours.
Published December 4, 2008 The Arizona Republic