Teamwork Can Build a Better Bargain

Posted by Kristin Arnold on July 30, 2009

Team negotiations require more skill than one-on-one negotiations.  Team-based negotiations can be more powerful if done correctly.  “When the right team is in place, all of the homework is done and team members are well versed on using ‘one voice’ throughout,” says Tom Wood, a negotiation expert with Watershed Associates.

When conducting negotiations using a team approach, he suggests the following techniques to make sure your team uses one voice:

Follow Your Leader.  Lead negotiators carry the negotiations.  The negotiation is not a democracy, so whomever is assigned that position should make it clear that he or she is responsible for providing the “one voice” to the other party in full session.

Be Prepared.  Lead negotiators use well-prepared, rehearsed opening comments that help establish the tone of the meeting.  All team members know what, if anything, they are allowed to say in full session.

Introductions, Anyone?  The team leader should start off by introducing the negotiation team members.  Remember, you’re building rapport, so take a comfortable amount of time to kick the meeting off appropriately.  Let people on both sides of the negotiation get to know each other and start building a level of trust with each other.

Listen ‘til It Hurts.  Everyone should be listening and observing everything when not speaking.  Be prepared to share your observations with the negotiation team when in caucus.

Take a Time Out.  If there is something that needs to be discussed privately, any team member can call a “caucus” to discuss the issue in a separate room.  Caucus frequently; it’s a sign of preparedness, strength, confidence, and teamwork.  After all, two (or more) heads are better than one!

Routinely Recap.  Continually summarize which points have been agreed upon, what next steps need to be taken, and what deadlines need to be met.

Follow Up.  Every negotiation should conclude with a letter, fax, or email summary of the agreements, next steps, and deadlines.

Question:  Do you need to hone your negotiation skills?

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