Fun With Seesaws, Or In Other Words: Leverage!


All right, we've got you all prepped for your negotiation and we've got you thinking about the importance of where you're going to hold your negotiations. Now, we need to spend some time thinking about how LEVERAGE will affect your negotiations and how you can affect the leverage in any deal.

Begin by evaluating the Leverage situation as early as possible into the Negotiation. Time is a huge factor in determining Leverage and many times, the seconds ticking off the clock alone can change the balance of power in a negotiation. If you know that deadlines and time pressures will only become greater for yourself or the other party based on the timing of negotiations, this can be a powerful tool for you to affect the outcome.

Next, take some time to think about the surrounding environment and circumstances in which you are negotiating. Sometimes things are great, everyone is amicable and life is good.  Sometimes it's not quite like that. If you can identify the points of friction and understand how the underlying circumstances within the organizations at the table could affect the outcome of the negotiation, you'll be prepared for stormy weather if you encounter it.

Your actions and those of your negotiation partner can also be indicators of Leverage. Some things to watch for:

  • Neediness - Are you eager, willing, bending over backwards to get things done? 
  • Emotions - People blowing their tops and becoming emotional can signal important crossroads in your negotiation that might have otherwise seemed unimportant.
  • Drafting Control - Often times, the initial draft becomes an anchor for the negotiations. If drafting the agreement is taken up by the other party, don't be sucked into using their paper as your anchor.
  • Individuals Involved - The number of people involved and their prestige within the organization is a great barometer as to how important this negotiation will be. 
During the course of your negotiation, there are several actions you can take that will either help you to boost your own Leverage or to reduce the strength of your opponent's Leverage.

Boosting Your Leverage:
  • Create alternatives
  • Match your offerings to their needs
  • Discount their alternatives
  • Create a deeper relationship
Reducing Their Leverage:
  • Be disinterested
  • Identify deficiencies
  • Expand the scope of your project
  • Establish an exit strategy
Finally, remember that when dealing with Leverage, PERCEPTION IS REALITY.  So when you are prepared to serve up your Leverage, remember that this can be done in a variety of ways:
  • Present it - Just let the other side see the strength of your position
  • Leak it - Drop hints, provide strategic leaks, don't give it all away, but show enough to bolster your position.
  • Feign it - Fake it until you make it! (We don't really follow or like this strategy, but it is often employed and you should be aware that it could be used against you!)
Have fun on the Seesaw! We hope you have the tools to stay ahead of the leverage game and keep yourself in as strong a position of Leverage, from beginning to end, as possible.

Next week: Negotiation Strategies - Let The Mind Games Begin! 

You Want Me To Meet WHERE?


Last week, we talked about preparing for your negotiation. More and more we're seeing negotiations occurring over the phone or Skype or via some other technological gateway. However, when your plans include a face to face meeting you might want to take some time to consider where you want to meet to conduct your negotiations and what effects could come about as a result of this choice.

One of the truths that we believe strongly in here at the WieseLaw Contract Studio is that its never too early to start thinking about leverage (check out our Leverage Canvas). WHERE you decide to hold contract negotiations can play into the idea of leverage. If you are able to set the terms of where and when you will be meeting for the negotiation, this can signal perceived or actual leverage to the other party.

Home Turf - This sounds great, right? Make them come to you. You're already familiar with the surroundings and won't suffer from any disorientation factor. While this may be true, there are some possible downsides. You may be subject to distractions from those within your organization (i.e., you are on-site and can be hunted down even with your cellphone off). Also, there is always the possibility that your comfort could turn into a false sense of security or complacency. Be sure to stay alert!

Away Game - This can be a bit more difficult. You need to be prepared beforehand with directions to the negotiation site (Google Maps for the win!). Try to arrive early so you are not feeling stressed and time compressed. But being the visiting team can provide some valuable information. Just by being in their offices, you'll inevitably pick up some nonverbal cues about the organization (e.g., are they neat and organized, is their office furniture pricey and ostentatious, do people have pictures of their families/friends in their offices/cubes or are they sterile?).

Neutral Site - Due to the added cost and travel time to both parties, going to a neutral site, while offering some kind of level playing field, is often passed over as a possible choice. Depending on the parties involved and the availability/cost associated with the neutral site, this may be your best alternative. This is especially true if you are stuck in a stalemate with respect to meeting places. Keep it in your back pocket as an alternative.

Next Week - Fun with Seesaws or in other words: Leverage!

Negotiating In Difficult Situations


Well, it's no news flash. The economy isn't exactly rip-roaring. Getting deals done isn't the easiest thing in the world. More and more, having a negotiation strategy and following through on that strategy are becoming linchpins to success. In this first of a series of posts to follow, we'll roll out a plan for approaching your most difficult and most important negotiations.
Preparation - Begin before you Begin

Every negotiation is going to be filled with its own nuances and surprises, but you can minimize these plot twists and turns through preparation.

Sit down (you don't have to sit down, but you know, do what you do when you want to think) and figure out what you need to gain out of this negotiation and what you want to gain out of this negotiation.  Rank your needs first and your wants second.  By ranking your needs against your wants you will be able to identify the areas in which you can make concessions if you have to (your wants) and still get what you need.  Taking this idea one step further, identify the rationale behind your wants and needs.  If you need 120 days prior written notice in order to terminate the deal, be able to explain that you will need at least 120 days to re-tool for alternate production. This will make your needs seem rational and less like demands even though they may be make-or-break deal points.

Next, you need to take a walk on the wild side and put yourself in your negotiation partner's shoes, or high heels or whatever they wear.  Ok, not literally, unless you're into that sort of thing...then, go nuts. Anyway, the idea here is to want, and more importantly need from this deal. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say. Don't assume you know how things work "over there." The better you understand your counterpart and their wants and needs, the better able you will be to offer creative solutions to help you solve negotiation stalemates.

Finally, you need to be prepared to walk away from a negotiation if you aren't able to have your needs met. This is often referred to as your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) or your walk-away point. This is an absolutely crucial value to have nailed down.  The biggest mistake you can make in a negotiation is to accept a deal which puts you in a worse position than if you hadn't done any deal at all. 

Stay tuned for the next step: You want to meet WHERE?