Marketing and the Art of Negotiation

    June 30, 2005

Scenario 1 – 16 year old Doug is having an argument with his father. Doug thinks that his allowance should be increased, now that he is 16. Dad has no problem with handing more money to his son. But there is a catch. He wants Doug to work part-time at his store and earn the sum.

Whether Doug will have his way, or whether dad will win, is a matter that will finally be decided by who the better negotiator is.

Scenario 2- Now, let us put the art of negotiation in a business perspective. Say XYZ is a small firm based in Malaysia. They have a skilled staff, a wonderful product and a great business plan.
They have done their research, singled out their target market, and set an affordable price for their product. All they need to do is market it… but they do not have the fund to do so.

Aileen Wong, their Marketing Manager is trying to strike a deal with a possible investor. During the process of negotiation, she has to state the position of their firm on a number of issues like:

a) The principal investment amount

b) XYZ’s independence to take decisions

c) The profit sharing clause, where she must ensure that paying back the money does not drain her company out completely.

d) The issue of mutual trust and co-operation

Based on her negotiation skills, her company may win or lose out on these issues.

While, trying to run our businesses we face situations similar to this quite often… and negotiation becomes necessary. So here are a few things we should keep in mind while negotiating:

1. Review your own stance: Are you reluctant to go ahead with the negotiation? Or are you just too keen to close it? The answer to this question might explain why a negotiation process fell through, or why an agreement was reached too soon.

2. Know the other party: Know your adversary just as well you have taken the trouble to know yourself. It helps reducing the shock and surprise elements from the process… you know what’s coming next.

3. Think in layers: Anticipate the other party’s reactjon to your action. Prepare an attack against that as well. Chances are, you will catch them by surprise and manage to get an upper hand.

4. Communicate: Communication builds trust. Clear and honest communication can help clear many a clog that due process doesn’t.

5. Watch: Watch the other party intently. A little twitch of a facial muscle, a little tilt of the head can give away a lot more than words will.

6. Listen: Shut out all your other thoughts and learn to listen without reacting. You will catch innuendos and implications that you would otherwise miss.

7. Be confident: You may be the sales guy of a small firm, negotiating with the big boss of a giant corporation, but you do not have to be intimidated by him/ her. Remember, you both have something to gain from the negotiation. Negate the power of position with your self-confidence.

8. Know your best alternative: BATNA, as the Harvard Negotiation Project puts it, is something you MUST be aware of. If the negotiation is moving towards a dead end, your “best alternative to your stated position” is what you should go for.

9. Set you range: It is not always possible to achieve an exact objective at the end of a negotiation. Keeping that in mind, set an accpetable range for yourself. Anything below the range, you’re agreed to let the negotiation process fall through.

10. Identify your win: You must know when you have won. There are times when we just keep pushing for more. Learn to identify the maximum limit that you can achieve, and seal the deal right there.

Asya has a Masters degree in English, and a PGDBM in Advertising and e-Marketing Management. She is one of the founders of Top Search Rankers, and the SEO moderator at the eWebdevelopment forums.