Nine tips to promote win-win negotiating (no matter the contract)

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, I’ll have the distinct pleasure of co-facilitating the final MSAE Emerging Professionals brown bag lunch of 2012 with Tammy Dankenbring, sales manager for the Amway Hotel Collection. Discussion will focus on successful negotiation techniques. If your schedule will allow, and you’re not yet registered, please consider attending.

Following is the abridged version of our presentation (and I promise I’ve saved our best examples and talking points for the program – so I hope to see you there):

  1. Contracts differ. Familiarize yourself with the differences among the various contracts your organization routinely executes (e.g., technology, entertainment, speakers, décor and hotels). Some contracts may appear to be substantially the same; however, focus on the nuances of the outlier clauses and be sure to understand how they could affect your organization.
  2. Trade shoes. Consider the other organization’s perspective during negotiations. You’ll note my intentional use of the word “organization” here. Negotiating should always promote the best interests of organizations (rather than the self-interests of individuals). Much like your circumstances, the other organization is affected by goals, expectations and limitations.
  3. Consider value. A correlation exists between the value of your business and the number of concessions or price breaks your organization can expect to receive during contract negotiations. Evaluate the relative value of your business and negotiate each contract based upon what you can offer the other organization. Focus less on what they can offer you.
  4. Avoid “never.” Refrain from using (or even thinking) blanket statements like “We never pay for….” or “We’ll never agree to an attrition clause.” Quite simply, it breaks down the negotiation process. In fact, it results in something more akin to bullying than it is does negotiating. Instead, carefully consider your organization’s needs and wants, and communicate them accordingly.
  5. Develop relationships. The personal and organizational benefits that result when you develop a meaningful relationship with those involved in the negotiating process are invaluable. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to develop these relationships; they do not blossom overnight. Likewise, care should be taken to nurture these relationships, especially between negotiation periods.

In anticipation of this session, I also posted a question to ASAE’s online Collaborate community some time ago seeking various negotiating best practices. Joan Eisenstodt, chief strategist of Eisenstodt Associates LLC and one of the most brilliant minds in the meetings and hospitality industry, was kind enough to reply with the following tips:

  1. Ask questions and listen to answers.
  2. Go in without a preset agenda – that is, don’t assume “no” or “yes” until you ask and listen.
  3. Educate yourself about the person/entity with whom you are negotiating – know their needs.
  4. Look beyond price to conditions.

So, my question to you is this: What would you add to this list? In your experience, what have you found to be the single most important lesson you’ve learned about negotiating?

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meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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