“It’s time to go to the next level of my career,” I told myself a few months ago. Life and life experiences have put me in the right place at the right time to make my daydream a reality. As a natural born citizen of another country and as a newly-married person, I have a unique perspective as well as a set of obstacles and opportunities on the road ahead as I pursue my Executive MBA while being in transition.
My current short-term goal professionally is to find a job that not only fulfills my current ambition of being technical leader but also a management leader in the IT world, where as my long-term goal is to start my own business (Repurposing and creatively painting old leather products into house decor) along with my life-partner in the next 3-4 years. My personal goal is to again relive my artistic side, paint and be creative and get my spouse involved in the artistic world that I like.
I am at a juncture of my career where in both my personal goal of working with my life-partner coincides with my ambition of starting up a new business and apply whatever knowledge I gathered during class. My goal as far as EMBA classes is to actually be able to not only learn Finance and Accounting but actually try to master it is as much as possible because when my goal of opening up my business becomes a reality, I want to make sure I have command over that.
In my previous company, I had the opportunity to be a part of some important negotiations which helped me as well as the project understand the various aspects that we had predominantly neglected at the start of some of these negotiation. One such negotiation was when a rival vendor was trying to sell their new software to our client which they claimed would be doing the same kind of work that we were doing for past few years. When the time came to negotiate the new contract for our project, the clients asked us to come up with a plan as to why they should consider our software v/s the rival vendor’s proposed software. When I tried to analyze the whole negotiation process that we went with the end clients and even though we managed to extend the contract, there were a lot of issues that were not par with the 3D negotiation which are as follows: We didn’t set up the right negotiation as the right party and right interests were not set up. We never considered the No-Deal option.
Never paid attention to the six basic interpersonal skills that are essential for negotiation. My short term goal of being a technical as well as managerial leader in IT would require me to be a part of similar negotiations that I mentioned above. Right from extending contracts, to getting funding for maintenance and development of software, getting more business from different set of end clients which might be interested in similar software. Here are some of the important factors that needs to be considered while making these kind of negotiations.
My long-term goal of opening my own business with my spouse is something that would require a lot of negotiations that needs to be done be it with the bankers or venture capitalists who might be interested in funding it, real-estate people who might be interested in selling or renting their property and the end clients/customers who would be interested in buying my end products. These are the three key area of people that I have to get involved with in-order to start my business successfully.
While dealing with the Bankers/VC, one thing that we need to keep in mind is that we might have issues with one of them, so we need to keep more options and try to find the right new parties who might be interested (right players). With the Real-Estate people, you need to address the Twin tasks, namely, Learn about the true ZOPA and Shape your counterpart’s ZOPA perceptions to your advantage. New customers are more interested in creating and claiming value like discounted cash flows, creating relationships, reputation and being fair. We need to think long term for creating and claiming value as none of the parties should feel that they have been exploited or dealt with unfairly as the reputation would be at stake. All conflict management processes i.e. consensual negotiations, are based on information sharing and learning. In the process of sharing information, a party seeks to alter the knowledge, attitudes, preferences and strategies of its opponents. There are some conflicts that I might have to overcome during my business negotiations that can be summed up as:
As a successful negotiator the six basic interpersonal skills are utmost important but initially when I started negotiating in my previous company, I never paid real attention to some of those skills. The contract extension negotiation example above was finally approved but we had a lot of things that were not correct and that almost cost us the deal. Here are some of the key aspects of that deal: a) My company had this contract for past 9 years without any competition and hence I never expected a rival vendor to just come up with another proposal with the end client. b) I never really dealt with the topic of creating and claiming value as part of the negotiation. c) Had an incomplete/blurry information on the rival vendor and their product hence before proposing the deal, we never dug deep to rectify it.
d) Never pressed on the issue of Your Interests / Their Interests. As this was a contract that was being extended every single year, this thing never came to my mind. The reason we got the extension on the contract was due to some of equally compelling strength that as a negotiator we had and they were as follows: a) Our ability to make sure the end clients understand their No-Deal option. Even though we weren’t aware that it was called the No-Deal option, we certainly went that route when we presented our merits in front of them and made sure they understood what they were losing in-case the contract was not extended. b) Even though we didn’t do our homework on the rival contractor, we made sure that we had all our facts and data right once we were in front on the clients. The data showed all the current savings that we were providing to the end clients and this was a major factor that earned us the good point.
The quality and extent of my preparation
The better you understand your interests (why you want what you want); and the better you understand the interests of other parties (why they want what they want), the greater the chance you will be able to reach an elegant solution which leaves the parties feeling as if each has achieved the major portion of their goals People walk away thinking they would be pleased to negotiate again with me A negotiator’s relative strength can be measured by whether people walk away thinking they would be pleased to negotiate again with him/her.
If people leave a negotiation with you thinking they never want to see you again, then you are a poor negotiator Good communication to other parties so they understand my top priority A negotiator needs to understand that different issues should be treated as having different priorities in different negotiations. Sometimes the relationship is most important; other times creativity is the measure of how well one negotiates; and it is always true that good communication is a fundamental measure of a negotiator’s strength. A good negotiator makes her/his points clearly understood by other parties. A better negotiator makes understanding other parties her/his top priority.
In Moms.com case study, I was Terry Schiller and as my role was to sell the program, I made sure that for my preparation for the case, whether finding the right balance between the no. of re-runs v/s the licensing rate and making sure that this balance would give me as well as other party the max value. I had already calculated this before the negotiation started so that I knew what value would affect me as well as the other party. In Viking Investments case study, I was the person that run Viking investments and even though bankruptcy was the option for the other party, I not only made sure that it won’t happen but provided the other party with 3 different options and gave her the choice to choose which ever suited her bill. I believe in maintaining relationships and making sure that the other party feels the same way, hence when the other party walks away after the negotiation, they would want to do more business with me going forward. In Biopharm-Seltek case study, I represented Biopharm and my main goal was to make sure that the other party understood that I was not only interested in their company but was not interested in buying their patent.
Dealing with negative emotions from the other side of the table Are my standards of fairness being violated? Is the common bias operating about my being cooperative and fair while the other party is hostile and competitive? What rule or assumption that I hold is being violated by the other’s behavior? Controlling your emotions — commanding reasonable authority, managing your temper, etc. Has something been raised that questions what I tell myself I am or hope to be, such as Am I competent? Am I fair? Am I a good person? Knowing when to step away from the negotiation table — and being able to really do it No negotiator wants to enter into a poor agreement. But similarly, every negotiator should want to walk away from an unsatisfactory agreement towards a clearly defined, satisfactory BATNA
In Viking Investments case study, there were times I couldn’t control my emotion because as per my own belief I was trying to go all the way out to help the other side not file for bankruptcy but in the middle I thought that I was fighting the battle alone. I was emotionally drained out to make the other understand the consequence of bankruptcy and helping them more than I should as a result of which I questioned my own self whether I am competent enough. This to me is a sign of weakness because I let my emotion take over the negotiation process. In Biopharm-Seltek case study, I was overwhelmed by the negative emotion from the other side as they were not ready to part away with the company without me buying the patent.
It was their major walk away reason for them which I was not able to understand as they were being very hostile without being reasonable. I saw a very different take on this which was against my own personality and it was something I couldn’t overcome and need to work upon that. I still have a hard time to understand that you should never accept a proposal that is worse than your BATNA. Hence I couldn’t understand when to step away in case it didn’t work out. In the Moms.com, I didn’t get the proposal that I prepared so confidently before the negotiation started and I couldn’t find the courage to walk away from the table even though I knew the value created was not as much as what I had initially proposed.
Here are the negotiation skills that I plan on improving and dealing with short term as well as my long term goals:
1. Do your research. Clarify your own objectives and make sure you understand what your opposite number wants from the deal. For example, by doing some basic research into a potential supplier, you can work out how valuable your custom is to them. 2. Plan your strategy in writing and decide what approach you will adopt before beginning negotiations. Be clear about the type of deal you want, set clear goals and work out where you will draw the line and walk away from the deal. 3. Ask questions and listen closely to answers. Asking questions will help you understand what your opposite number wants to achieve. You may be able to get them to reveal how flexible they are on certain issues. 4. Decide what is negotiable. Before you start to negotiate, draw up a list of factors that are most important to you. Decide what you are (and aren’t) prepared to compromise on.
Key factors might include price, payment terms, volume or delivery dates. The key is to establish your preferred outcome, but remain realistic, because if you’re not prepared to compromise some negotiations won’t last long. 5. Don’t reveal your negotiating position and avoid making unnecessary concessions. If you have to make concessions – look for reciprocation. Concessions should only be made to help you get the things you value. You should also avoid appearing too keen to do a deal. Consider what offer the other party in the negotiations is likely to make and how you’ll respond. 6. Select the best team. Once you’ve decided on your strategy it is essential that you get your negotiating team right. Make sure it has skills in all the required areas and, where necessary, use a specialist to negotiate in areas outside your expertise 7. Drawing up a contract. Once all the points have been negotiated and a deal has been agreed, it’s best to get a written contract drawn up and signed by both parties. While verbal contracts are legally binding – they are difficult to prove in court. 8. Choose the right time and place for negotiation. Ideally select a time and place where you are not under pressure to close the deal.
My plan of being successful in negotiations
Mapping the parties
I would like to start with private talks with various individual parties (bankers, customers, etc.) before bringing everyone together for public negotiations, or it may be better to immediately begin negotiation with all stakeholders. When developing the process, it is important to consider the role of third parties, special procedures and specific negotiation systems. This will likely require an understanding of the cultural norms and individual personalities of the parties involved. Further important considerations relevant to the process include how the process is to be determined and how it could be modified. The set up essentially ensures that the scope, sequence and process of a negotiation is consistent with my desired outcome for the negotiation. I need to ensure that the right parties have been involved, in the right sequence, to deal with the right issues that engage the right set of interests, at the right table or tables, at the right time, under the right expectations, facing the right consequences of walking away if there is no deal.