Joe Auer from International Computer Negotations (ICN) here. Just thought I’d suggest a tactic to add to your negotiation arsenal.
Today many people involved in purchasing, acquisition or just plain negotiating don’t use one of the most powerful negotiation tools available.
You may be surprised to learn that one of the more subtle yet highly effective negotiating tactics is the development and use of a formal agenda for the negotiating sessions. Even if you presently use agendas, you may find a few things you can use, either in this letter or in the follow-up piece on agendas next week.
An agenda has several benefits.
Review your own goals and priorities:
When an agenda is being prepared is a perfect time for your negotiating team to review its goals and objectives and to determine their relative priorities. It’s also a great time to determine each of the individual team member’s roles and responsibilities during the upcoming formal negotiating session.
Sometimes the members of a negotiating team fail to prepare adequately for specific discussions with a potential supplier. Often negotiators are aware of only a few of the points or questions to be covered at a particular meeting. Little or no thought has been given to the protocol and ground rules for the meeting or the advantages you will have by bringing issues up in a specific fashion.
You are in control:
An agenda strengthens the ability of your team to control the negotiating session, thereby enhancing the team’s ability to accomplish your objectives. Control of the negotiating environment can be a critical advantage. In fact, negotiating success is enhanced by your skill in controlling the issues being discussed. So, a carefully designed agenda lets you sequence the topics to be covered in such a way that your negotiating leverage is maximized.
Helps ensure key team members’ availability:
Another consideration in using an agenda as part of your negotiation strategy is that it should guarantee availability of key negotiation team members at specific times as the negotiations are under way.
Reminds the potential supplier who’s in charge:
A well-thought-through agenda can strengthen your ability to control and lead the discussions. This psychological advantage enhances your ability to control the bargaining session and enhances your ability to accomplish your objectives.
Achieve a preliminary negotiating victory:
The agenda can be used as an indirect method of getting your point across on a specific bargaining issue. Similarly, the agenda can be used as a subtle tool to implement or reinforce your particular negotiating strategy. The mere dissemination of your agenda, and the acceptance of it by the supplier, achieves a preliminary negotiating victory for you.
By agreeing to an agenda, the supplier admits, directly or indirectly, that your concerns are worth addressing. Beyond this point, the specific language and organization of the agenda can be employed to implement or reinforce your particular negotiating strategies.
A key aspect of using an agenda successfully is to appreciate the subtleties involved.
You can analyze the attached agenda to identify these subtleties and their relative importance, so that we can discuss them in the near future.
CEO International Computer Negotiations
P.S. If you’re curious about my qualifications in this field, click here for my bio (I didn’t write it myself — I promise).