Negotiations are rarely an individual undertaking where two solo negotiators meet in a bloodless duel. More often than not, two teams come to the negotiating grounds and bring in all the benefits and controversies of organizations they represent. Is there any scientific reason behind this norm? It turns out, yes. When at least one team is present at the negotiation table, the outcomes are more likely to be a win-win success, where both parties are happier with the results and are ready to cooperate in the future.
Because of these positive outcomes, it is better for you to have a prepared team for any important negotiations coming your way. We say prepared because an unprepared and disorganized team can bring you more troubles than gains. So before you book a conference room and start the talks of the century, book a good training on negotiation skills for your team and set the people on the right track from the very beginning.
When To Put The Team Into Action
Negotiation configurations may differ: two teams may meet at the table, a team may face a solo negotiator, and two individuals (for example, CEOs) may duel about the details of the deal of their lives. As you remember, when at least one team is participating, the negotiations are bound to have better outcomes. A team means more diversity, more insights, and more different approaches and, in general, a larger space for deal-saving maneuvers.
There are special occasions when a team will work better:
- The rules require that the talks are conducted by a team, like in diplomatic talks or in the talks between international corporations.
- You need to represent the whole company as a diverse environment, where many interests are at play.
- Negotiations deal with the interests of a big group of people (not the company as a unit, but people that constitute it) – trade union questions, mergers, and acquisitions that can lead to mass employee layoffs, etc.
- You need to employ in these negotiations the unique skills and knowledge of your people and get the best outcomes possible.
- The talks need to end not in a deadlock, but in a complex creative solution that integrates many smaller decisions.
The team will contribute greatly in these cases, but only if it is prepared and trained to act as a cohesive whole. Otherwise, a slip of the tongue of one of the negotiators can cost you the whole contract.
Building The Negotiation Skills In Your Team
Step one. Define the essence of the negotiations. This includes the conditions of the deal, the desired outcomes, the concessions that are acceptable, and the compromises that can be agreed upon (BATNA and/or the worst outcome you are ready to take). Moving beyond these boundaries is forbidden to all team members (except for the formally appointed leader).
Step two. Know the skills of team members and appoint roles. You will have one team leader and one assistant (who may chime in to contradict or argue in the process of the talks, along the previously determined lines, of course). Or you may split the leading role in two: one will be a leader and another will be a spokesperson. A leader sets the general line and a spokesperson tries to bend the will of the other side in the necessary direction. Other team members will include financial experts, field experts like chief logistics officers or quality control staffers, and so on.
Step three. When the team is organized, it is time to plan the process. It means that you envision every move: the start of negotiations, the concessions, the pushy moments, and the strategic retreat. The team is specifically fit for organizing such breakaways, since one team member can interfere with a new issue demanding its discussion, and the retreat will look natural as the need to settle the internal arguments.
These are just the outlines of information and skills you can get from good negotiation training for your team. So enter the talks, big or small, prepared and equipped for success!