Negotiating Tip #59:
The Benefits of Team Play
(Our next group of negotiating tips comes from our book Creative Conflict: A Practical Guide for Business Negotiators from Harvard Business Review Press).
Using a team approach to negotiating has advantages and costs; Mobus Creative Negotiating offers lessons for how to use this approach. This tip focuses on the benefits; the next looks at the costs; and the last gives some bullet points of how to manage team negotiating.
A more collective approach to business negotiations can offer the following advantages:
* Broadened expertise. Instead of one person deciding every thing, teams tap into the wisdom of the group. They generate healthy challenges to the leader’s choices. Often the strongest experts come from within an organization. Others may be imported. Either way, they’ll lend your claims more credibility and stiffen your spine when the other side bombards your position.
* Better planning. Beyond adding resources, a team structure forces more concerted planning and discourages procrastination. People hold one another other accountable. With expanded prep time and crowdsourced solutions, the lead negotiator can better analyze the other side’s needs and gauge their urgency to get the deal.
* Firmer commitment. When braced by a collective, account managers are less likely to wobble and dip beneath an agreed-upon reserve price. Teams are safety nets that catch you before you fall or correct you in real time.
* Relief. There’s nothing more exhausting than a marathon negotiating session, especially on deadline. When your energy flags, you’ll be grateful for someone else to step in and carry the ball for a while.
* Better listening. When lead negotiators do all the talking, they can lose track of what they’re saying or get distracted and miss an opening.
In all of these situations, it takes a creative approach—in the face of overt conflict—to work out a deal to benefit both sides. It also demands a two-sided mindset, because the added value still needs to be distributed. A negotiator has to know how to secure collaboration while at the same time getting the best deal for his side. We at Mobus Creative Negotiating offer a host of practical suggestions for how to put this two-sided mindset into practice.