In this age of specialization and consolidation of companies, contract negotiations happen more and more between teams rather than individuals. And those teams are getting bigger: a recent study found there are on average close to eight people on a seller’s and close to six on a buyer’s side. Team-on-team and one-on-one negotiations are different – but how?
Reading history books, one finds that little has changed by way of our social skills in the course of written history. Writers like Aristophanes and Boccaccio already understood fully well how to manipulate the human mind. Rulers from Pericles to Augustus could make the most of that knowledge in negotiations – equally well as, say, Otto von Bismarck or Nelson Mandela.
Negotiation skills for everyone
The actual negotiation skills and tactics have remained much the same over time. However, modern education has brought them accessible to a vast number of our contemporaries, especially business people – many of whom now work hard in teams to win the best deals for their businesses.
Yet, team negotiation requires something more than solo performances. But if skills are not that scarce anymore, what is?
Processes change, people… not so much
It is managing the process. When there is an individual handling the whole negotiation, there is naturally a lot to do: planning, preparations, contract review, agreeing about the practicalities with the counterpart – and then the actual negotiation and signing.
What is different when there are various experts involved, like a sales rep, lawyer, product line manager and a few more people? The answer is, project management gets MUCH harder:
- Planning. You need to invite the team together, informing them about the project details, then agree upon the priorities, strategy and tactics, sequence of steps AND responsibilities.
- Running the internal review of terms. First, a channel is required to start running commenting and redlining. This includes alerting collaborators to upcoming tasks and having changes first approved within your own team, before exposing them to the other side.
- Running negotiation. First agreeing on and preparing negotiation process, venues and channels between parties. Then running the commenting and redlining, alerting people (own and possibly counterpart) to tasks and ensuring they get done. On top of that, communicating status and agreeing about changes to the plan with the own team.
- Approval. Getting all the changes agreed upon and the final version signed by all parties, storing it and communicating the content of the contract to own organization.
Too much to handle for one person?
All this makes a skill set of its own, apart from negotiation skills. It is rather about project management and that is how many companies now approach it, hiring professional negotiation managers and coordinators to take care of the practical side of running the negotiations.
What’s more, the most advanced companies are relying on new online negotiation solutions like Documill Leap for Salesforce. They can make things a lot easier and faster with advanced collaboration and process automation features.