A few weeks ago I had a proposal turned down at job by my senior management team that I had been negotiating on for weeks and it really got to me. Like for days… I moped around like my cat died. I couldn’t get over it. To make a long story short and to not get into too much detail, my company was asked to partner with another organization at an event that would give us the opportunity to be in front of over 150,000 people at very low-cost. We got asked – and asked first – because of the relationships I had with the people from this other organization. I had worked with them on events together in the past, and I must have done something right for them to come back and ask us to partner again. Being the promoter/event planner that I am, I was so excited about this opportunity and about what it could do for the current company I work for.
Well, it’s not happening and the reason it’s not happening is because my side of the partnership felt that they were not getting what they wanted out of the deal (what they wanted was impossible for the other side of the partnership to acquire). So where could we compromise so both sides would win? There was no compromise, no negotiating no nothing. It was our way or no way. So the partnership fell through. I was so disappointed.
This whole “episode” that I went through got me thinking about the art of negotiating. I had been down this road before and it is always frustrating when you can’t make something work with another group. But when something does work and both sides are happy it really can create something great.
I started to wonder what caused people to negotiate differently. Was it their purpose? Goals? Age? I am not considered a Millennial but I am on the borderline. I am at least 10 years younger than the people who have the final decision in my organization. I wondered if that had something to do with it.
I did some research on the subject and I found an article from the International SalonSpa Business Network – totally not my area of expertise by the way – but I connected with the article. Does that mean I think like a millennial? Whatever…I think they are on to something here…
So for someone who thinks does a pretty good job when it comes to building partnerships with people (ehm…ME!) here are my tips when it comes trying to negotiate with someone:
- Establish a relationship first
This can be short-term or long-term. If you are just meeting this person for the first time, get to know who they are first before you jump right into what you are trying to achieve. Find some sort of connection and it doesn’t have to be business related. Do you both have the same hobby? Did you both grow up in the same area? Do you both have kids? Find that connection. Eventually this can turn into a longer term type of relationship. I have former clients that are now friends of mine and current clients that we will just go out and have lunch and not talk business to keep that relationship building (and we have a good time together too!).
- Make it a win-win for both sides
Kinda seems a little obvious but for some people they have the mindset that they want to get more out of the partnership than the other side. I have a different tactic…The other party may be trying to wine and dine me but I want them to leave happy too. I want to go out of my way to make sure they are just as happy with us as I am with them. I do this because I know when I need something in the future they will be there for me (hopefully).Here’s an example:At one of my past jobs, we paid to be a title sponsor at an event. A lot of cash was exchanged for us to be able to be on site at this event and have our name plastered everywhere. It was a normal exchange for a contracted sponsorship. A couple of months later, I was in a jam and had a ton of boxes of branded give-a-ways that I needed to get rid of because our branding was changing. Because of our past relationship they allowed me to give them away at a smaller event at no cost. WINNING!!!Of that is not the only reason why I make sure the other side always leaves happy. To me, it’s always satisfying to make other people happy and to see them successful.
- Be Honest (or as honest as you can)
If you let the other side know exactly what you are looking for, what you can and cannot do, then the negotiation process will go a lot smoother. If you already have that close relationship established then being honest will be a lot easier. Of course there will always be things that you will not be able to disclose such as budget details or who else you are talking with in regards to sponsorship negotiations but if you have that close, trusted relationship already established those things should already be expected and respected.
Working for a large business and being one of the faces for the company out in the community can have its perks! However it also has its challenges especially when it comes to negotiating partnerships with other organizations. I have had to say yes, then no, then yes, then no to the same organization on the same deal that lasted 3 years because of senior management changes. Finally the deal went through but if it wasn’t for the relationships I had built during those three years and the honesty I gave, the result could have been a lot different.
To me it just seems really easy….be nice, be honest, and make friends with people and making deals will be a lot easier. I have made some great friends from the partnerships I have created through my career and I have also had some great experiences that I can check off my bucket list. If you follow these three steps I promise it will work and make your job a lot easier and FUN!