The conventional wisdom of Win-Win as the desired result of a negotiation doesn't mean both parties "share and share alike." Each party to a negotiation has a threshold that needs to be met for there to be any point in doing the deal. If that threshold gets met (that bare minimum) it's a "win." More than that is a "wow."
Well then, you want to be the party who provides the "win" and gets the "wow."
The uncommonly successful negotiator spends little to no time trying to make a case for the value of his contribution to the deal. He assumes with confidence that the guy across the table appreciates his value, or there would have been no meeting to begin with. Our guy expends his energy probing for his counterpart's threshold.
"What are you trying to accomplish, Mr. Jones, and why do you think Sherman Enterprises can help you?"
"What will you need from me, if anything, after we shake hands, to make this work for you?"
"How and when will you be able to assess the results of our transaction?"
"Where does this deal sit on the priority ladder of your company's issues at this time?"
The effort here is to get your potential "partner" to talk, and think, about himself rather than the "price" of the deal. The very process of focusing him on his "need" will reinforce for him why he is in this conversation in the first place and direct his thinking toward a successful conclusion -- filling his basic need basket! The overflow becomes yours. He gets what he needed, you get what you needed, AND the overflow -- wow!
Many years ago the executive vice president of a media division of a major communication company called me to "talk about" a high profile management position he needed to fill. "Would I like to talk about it?" "Sure." We met. During the "interview" I spent a lot of time listening to his recitation of his career path and accomplishments. He may not have asked me one question. I was intrigued by his need to impress me. After all, he held the keys to the front door of a pretty high profile position. My first thought was, "this guy is letting me know that if we get together on this, he's going to be the boss. Why?"
At some point I asked what he thought the major challenge would be for his new hire. He told me, and off-handedly remarked that Fred (his boss) suggested he reach out to me as a potential "fixer." Translation: Fred "suggested" he check me out. If I wasn't at the command post tent when Fred next visited, this EVP would have failed. His "win" was to have me at the desk. My win was to get the job -- but trust me -- by learning what his "need" or "win" was, I got the "wow."
It was a nice package.
Bob Sherman has 40 years experience managing relationships between media companies and advertisers in old and new media from radio, cable and TV to the Internet, and from sales executive to chief executive and from the biggest media corporations to his own entrepreneurial companies. He is currently in partnership with Pilot Group, LLC. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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