Would you like to negotiate more successfully as a Business Unit?

Von Stefan Kühn

Apart from the case of single person owned company, it seldom happens that only one person is involved with a business or business unit in negotiations. Usually it is between a few and many persons who lead negotiations on behalf of the company, whether this be in sales, purchasing, partners, authorities etc. The more people who are involved in negotiations, the more varied the negotiation results turn out to be. What are the reasons why companies often cannot target an overall success and how can the performance, consistency and predictability of all negotiations led be improved and stabilised?

The ability to negotiate in the real interest of the company varies greatly, not only between individuals, but also between different sectors within an organisation. The results negotiated are often received very positively on a subjective basis, however, the success anticipated can pan out quite differently. We very often note the following symptoms (not limited):

  • The success of the individual sector or person stands in the foreground
  • Contracts are concluded, which could not have been realised or were only realised at enormous additional time and cost
  • Various promises are broken, which can damage the reputation of the company
  • Too little focus is placed on cross-unit benefits. One unit wins, the other loses. From a group viewpoint the „success“ can quickly become a „damage“
  • Negotiations are not coordinated satisfactorily enough internally and consequently dissatisfaction and endess discussions ensue
  • There are few „Stars“ – individualism and not team concepts stand in the foreground
  • Unnecessary dependencies on individual negotiators arise. „Kingdoms“ are created which can barely be led.

If two or more points above apply to you, it is worth thinking how sector or company-wide negotiating processes can be structured better and more successfully overall.

In discussions with companies from the most varied branches we notice time and again, that negotiating employees from the same status of negotiations have highly different perspectives. Targets and benefits of own services or products are interpreted differently and even the corporate targets are interpreted quite differently within the same team by individual team members for various reasons. If there is not an understanding or consensus about targets, milestones, values and procedures, it is not surprising that the deals negotiated do not always prove to be satisfactory from a corporate viewpoint. The number of good, but not very well negotiated contracts is very high, and the number of unrecorded cases even higher. Here companies give away money, efficiency and often also their reputation.

With the creation of cross company negotiating expertise and platform the above deviations can be gradually reduced and finally eliminated.

The advantages of having not only individual top class negotiators in an organisation are that negotiating skills can be implemented across the organisation which brings strategically sustainable advantages (not limited):

  • Target oriented negotations that take place in the common interest of the company
  • Cross-company understanding and acceptance, of how negotiations should take place
  • Optimal coordination with all parties involved allows for an efficient implementation of negotiated agreements
  • Better prepared and managed negotiations
  • Unified launch and identity
  • Institutionalised control mechanisms for ongoing negotiations (opportunities and risks)
  • Possibility for management to participate at the right time and not only when the matter has run its course  
  • Constant learning process, as negotiations are analysed retrospectively
  • Good professional environment: everybody is pulling in the same direction, idleness is avoided, destructive and endless discussions are reduced

INCS has developed processes, to build up efficient and powerful negotiating platforms within organisations. Based on strategy and company values newly emerging negotiating cultures can ensure sustained success on all negotiating fronts.

About the author

Stefan Kühn
Negotiation expert

Stefan Kühn is a senior international negotiator, mediator and facilitator and experienced in high-risk and high-stakes negotiations in sensitive markets. He successfully conducts national and international multi-party negotiations and consults businesses, organizations and governmental bodies in demanding and conflicting situations. Stefan Kühn graduated from Harvard University and Oxford Saïd Business School and holds a Master of Science in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and an MBA.