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How to assemble a successful negotiating team

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Negotiating teamYou are leading your team in negotiations with a very important client. Everything goes just fine and smooth until your colleague says "OK, what more can we do to please you?!" At that very moment your team member destroyed your initiative and probably the deal.


No matter how prepared you are, errors like this can happen to anybody and they give the opposite side a perfect opportunity to enforce its arguments and values.

So, intentionally or unintentionally, the member of your crew undermined the common interests and carefully planned strategy. This is the lesson many managers tend to forget: the members of their team can be more dangerous than the hard negotiator at the opposite side of the table.

There are two critical points: the adjustment of conflicting interests on your own side, and discipline among members of your team. It is not surprising that there are conflicts in the negotiating team because team members often come from different departments of the company. Although all participants are on the same side, they all have a little different priorities.

Those who come from the development department want to conclude the deal as soon as possible, finance is concerned about costs, lawyers are focusing on the licenses, copyrights and other legal terms. Each team member from each department pulls to his side and makes the job much heavier to the team as a whole.

So, before entering the negotiations with another company, the team leader must first carry out negotiations in his company and coordinate the members from different departments. They eventually must accept a situation less than ideal for them if they want to help their company. Here are a few advice how to assemble a successful team.

Each team member plays a certain role in negotiations. When you discover who will represent the opposite side, try to balance the power by bringing in professionals who can cope with team members on the other side of the table. If the opposing party brings high-ranking officials, bring your top players too.

When the team is established, each member must know the limits of his acting, what he can and what he can't do. So, it is necessary to include all the negotiators in the planning process so that no one misses the decisions about which strategies will be used, the framework in which to move around and what questions are not for the negotiation.

You should not overstate the size of the team, this creates an impression of too much arrogance. If you know how many people will represent the opposing party surpass them in number by one and not more. Seating positions of team members must be wisely decided.

If circumstances permit, do not distribute all of your people opposed to the other side since that would symbolize the hostile tone. Second, if all your people are sitting in the same row you will not see them well and your communication will be weakened.

It is necessary to arrange some kind of signalling but don't do that by pounding elbow or foot, it is enough to introduce a simple and discrete signals. For example, one of them will refer to "shut up", another "bring your speech to the end", and the third "transfer negotiations to me." One of the simplest and very effective way is to signalize those messages with the position of your pen or paper.

With a little planning and preparation you may devote all your attention to the opposite side of the table, not worrying who of the "home people" will break the deal.

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