True negotiations are an awful lot about managing the balance of power between you and the other party to positive effect. But how often do professionals take full stock of the resources at their disposal? In our experience, this can be rare. At best, this means they don’t get as much from their bargaining activities as they should. At worst, they can lose out big time – to the firm’s business detriment if we are talking about discounts or write-offs.
Here are three of the most relevant sources of influence to assess for use in any negotiation situation: Affinity, Nominal and Deferral: a power of three.
Only connect….you have a really good relationship with a client….(s)he gives you the inside track on what’s happening in their organisation…you may even socialise in and outside of work.
With clients like this, some professionals seriously underestimate the power of Affinity when it comes to negotiation. Why? Sometimes because they don’t realise how much affinity they actually have. Often, it’s also that they don’t know how to, or feel they can’t or shouldn’t use this influence in a bargaining situation. They most definitely should: here, “I need a favour from you” isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s the sound of affinity being used smartly and profitably.
Become an acknowledged expert Being an authority on something does confer status when negotiating: but gaining wider acknowledgement as one is most definitely a few notches up. We have observed situations where the nominal status afforded to being so widely known is sufficient, in itself, to gain respect and greater sway – without actually having to prove it!
This is why some professionals focus on directory entries or other forms of professional recognition as a route to such influence. That’s OK but can be limited because it is ALL they concentrate on. So they miss out on so many other, more high profile ways to garner Nominal power. A few get it by putting consistent time and effort into authoring books, articles, blogs, doing TED talks, conference presentations, seminars and all that jazz. And making sure everyone knows, sees them, or has a copy!
Try tactical deferral This is the power…..of not being empowered! It is very handy to use if you are in a fix, or need time to think or consider, because deferral means both “yielding to another’s opinion” and “holding back to a later time”. We have seen smart, mid-ranking professionals use Deferral – “of course, I can’t make any promises because I’ll need to talk to my partner” – not just to get them out of a tricky situation but also to help broaden out the discussion and potential options to reach agreement in a more risk-free way.
It is a tactic open to all.