Negotiation Tips

When deal making or negotiating remember:

1Prepare, prepare, prepare. Preparation is an investment of time. Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. Who is on each side? What’s the history? What’s the balance of bargaining power? What’s the ideal outcome? What can each side afford to give away? What’s the bottom line?
2Bring a positive attitude. If you feel like you are going to lose, that’s what will happen. Be confident, and be prepared to give the other side what they need too. Don’t be a “user” who takes advantage of the other side. Don’t be a “loser” who comes to the negotiation with a defeatist attitude. Be a “Fuser” – prepared to fuse the agendas of both sides in order to create currency for both sides. All long lasting, successful deals are based on this state of mind.
3Marshal your bargaining power. It’s easy to under-estimate your own bargaining power and over-estimate your opponent’s. Identify the Aces that you hold to boost your confidence. Do you have Expertise on your side? Authority? Market power? Network power? Rules and Regulations? These are all sources of bargaining power.
4When you’re bargaining, don’t give away something for nothing. Always ask for something back. There is generally no such thing as a goodwill concession. And keep points open so you can put packages together to deal with difficult issues. If you just leave the difficult points to the end you will have no concessions left with which to solve them.

5Ask for what you want. The more you ask for the more you get, so there’s no point holding back. And you only need one good reason to support what you ask for – don’t waffle – the more you say […]

By |September 22nd, 2010|Advice|Comments Off on Negotiation Tips

Hands off EMI – Guy’s price for a settlement with Citigroup

Litigation with Citigroup has just kicked off in New York concerning the purchase of EMI. Terra Firma and Guy Hands allege they were duped into over-paying for EMI by Citigroup, who pretended there was another buyer in the race in order to keep the price up. Now it seems a settlement is being discussed. Can a deal be done that meets the underlying needs of both parties?
Under the proposed terms Citigroup would apparently be asked to slash US$2 billion off EMI’s debt in return for the action being dropped and Citigroup taking a minority interest in the company. This would avoid Hands and Terra Firma having to raise more cash to meet debt covenants that it can ill afford (a further hefty chunk being due in March, 2011).

Though the deal terms may be all about debt repayments and cash-injections, for both parties this is really a deal about preserving reputation, which is a “reassurance need”. Both the value of the company and the loan used to buy it have largely been written off in each party’s books, so this deal is not really about the money. Guy Hands does not want to look as though he made a massive and ill-informed judgement in acquiring EMI at the price that he did, and Citigroup certainly does not want to look like it mis-represented the deal. Nor does it want to look like it caved in to a settlement just because Hands launched a law a suit – that would send a terrible signal to any disgruntled purchaser of an asset which had been previously sold to him by Citigroup.
These deep-seated needs may not be explicitly talked about in the deal, but they will drive […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Hands off EMI – Guy’s price for a settlement with Citigroup

The Bamboo house falls in under pressure tactics

Sad to see the opposition coalition in Burma beginning to unravel in the face of sustained negotiating pressure by the ruling Generals. When you negotiate as a team you are always vulnerable to divide and rule tactics, and that is what is happening in Burma.

Burma’s Nobel laureate, San Suu Kyi had called for a boycott of the stage-managed elections organised by the military junta and due to take place next month. However, more than 160 of her supporters have now defied their leader and will contest the election whilst she remains under House arrest in Rangoon.

When you are involved in a team you need to work harder at preparation and internal communication than when you are negotiating on your own, as all members of the team must speak with one voice. Opponents know this and will try to divide and disrupt the team, by isolating stronger members or picking off other, weaker members of the team who are less committed to its cause. It must be almost impossible for San Suu Kyi to keep her team together when she is under house arrest. This makes the battle with the Junta for a democratic deal in Burma much harder to win. Her team is also worn out by the duration of the battle. It’s 20 years since she won her famous landslide victory in the elections of 1990. The result has been ignored ever since. It’s much harder to keep teams united behind a common purpose for a prolonged period of time than for shorter periods of negotiating.

These factors have enabled General Than Shwe to play off cleverly against each other those supporters who want to expose the poll as a fraud and […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on The Bamboo house falls in under pressure tactics

Liverpool can sing when they’re winning – off the pitch at least

The “negotiations” for the sale of Liverpool Football club have ended in a decisive loss for the preceding owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

The defeat of Messrs Gillett and Hicks by the remainder of the Liverpool Board does show what a powerful a source of bargaining power it is to have the law and regulations on your side.

John Henry, of new England Sports Ventures, who have now acquired the club, does not sound like a shrinking violet. The owner of the Boston Red Sox has acquired a fortune of almost US$1 billion through Futures trading. Maybe he and Chairman Martin Broughton (who also chairs BA) would have stood up to Gillett and Hicks “tough guy” tactics in the negotiation, come what may. Broughton after all is in the middle of the BA dispute with Unite, so he is not one to shirk a conflict either.

However, what a difference it made to their negotiating attitude and ultimately that of Hicks and Gillett once the High Court had pronounced against the latter last week. Although Hicks and Gillett trooped off to Texas to find a “hang’em and flog ‘em” judge to temporarily restrain the sale, they threw in their hand when Broughton and the Board went back to the High Court to nullify the effect of that injunction. Ultimately the UK Court ruled that Hicks and Gillett no longer had control over Liverpool to prevent its sale. Having required a re-financing of club’s debts by RBS in August, they had accepted conditions of sale against which they had no right to protest now.

With rules and regulations on their side, Broughton and his colleagues moved swiftly to complete the sale and so Gillett and […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Liverpool can sing when they’re winning – off the pitch at least

Don’t just complain, state a remedy

Out at dinner with the family last Saturday at Yautcha restaurant just off Berwick Street in London. Terrible service. The meal took over an hour to turn up. The kids were getting very restive. When the meal finally arrived it was cold. I duly blew my top as this is not an inexpensive restaurant and they need to do better. Important to remember at times like this though to propose a remedy as well as just sounding off- otherwise you don’t give the other side a chance to put the deal right.

In this case I made clear that we wanted money off and the restaurant was only too happy to oblige. We got the whole meal cooked again and enjoyed it for free. If we had just stormed out that wouldn’t have happened and the restaurant wouldn’t have had a chance to make amends.

So the next time you want to complain, do say what will put it right as well. And if someone is complaining at you, make them state their remedy. That will ether completely take the wind out of their sails or it will get the discussion on to a far more positive track…

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Don’t just complain, state a remedy

Osborne and Alexander pull the old “Good Cop/bad Cop” routine

It’s been classic tough-guy stuff from Messrs Osborne and Alexander as they negotiate with different departments concerning the forthcoming round of public spending cuts. Apparently Osborne has been playing the softer “good cop” to Alexander’s “bad cop”. The good cop butters you up, the bad cop roughs you up, and then the good cop moves back in to sweep up the concessions you make in gratitude that one of them is being nice to you. I wonder what would have happened if someone had pulled them up on this tactic. “Look, you two seem a bit confused. Why don’t we have a short break, then you can both agree a common approach, and we can start again.”
That would have stopped it…..

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Osborne and Alexander pull the old “Good Cop/bad Cop” routine

If you make a threat you have to mean it or you are dead meat

Top negotiating marks to the butcher in the first week of “Apprentice”, who implemented his negotiating threat when the team led by Dan “shouty” Harris ignored him. He was asked to quote a price for sausage meat and the Apprentice team told him they would check out prices elsewhere and come back to him. “It may not be the same price when you do” he warned them.
Sure enough, when they came back to him having realised that his initial price was a good one, he put that price up. The Apprentice team were suitably indignant about it, but he reminded them of the earlier conversation, saying “I told you that the price would change”.
This was great use of pressure in the bargaining phase of a negotiation, but also a good reminder that if you make a threat, you need to see it through. Had our friendly butcher not increased the price his negotiating credibility would have completely evaporated.

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on If you make a threat you have to mean it or you are dead meat

China crisis – the Yuan that got away

Tension is mounting on as China steadfastly refuses to allow its currency to rise in the way that other developed countries – especially the US – wish to see. This is driving a vast China trade surplus with the rest of the world, and the accumulation of huge currency reserves in China. It also makes it harder for Western economies and even other Asian countries to climb out of recession, as they can’t produce goods that compete with the price of Chinese imports.

Who holds the aces in this ongoing negotiation? China would seem to have plenty of cards in its hand – especially its size and market power. China also seems to bring a somewhat win/lose attitude to the negotiation table. This is presently driving some lose/lose thinking by the West and Japan. If China won’t revalue its currency upwards then maybe they will permit their own currencies to drift down in value to the Yuan? Or maybe they will reach for protectionist remedies to stop Chinese imports?

The truth is nobody ever won a negotiation by playing lose/lose, However, what would happen if the other developed countries could convince China to play win/win instead? In order to do this there needs to be a focus on what China needs from any negotiation. This is not a strategy of weakness. Rather it is a hard-nosed approach which relies on the fact that a negotiation focused on China’s needs is more likely to net a win for the West and other developed countries. The Chinese government leads a fairly precarious existence. It has managed to maintain One-party politics alongside the development of economic prosperity. Would that situation continue if that economic prosperity went away? Very […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on China crisis – the Yuan that got away

Don’t shoot on sight – why Iran’s President is more use to Israel alive

When Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared in Lebanon recently to bolster the Iranian backed Hezbollah, he spoke to packed and enthusiastic rallies. His rhetoric was, as usual, highly inflammatory. He promised that “the Zionists will disappear” during his speech from the border town of Bint Jbeil.

There was an interesting piece in the Sunday Times by Uzi Mahnaimi this week about why Israel didn’t take this opportunity to assassinate one of its sworn enemies, at a point when he was less than one mile from the Israeli border.

One reason may be that, unpleasant though his views may be, from a deal-making point of view President Ahmadinejad is more useful to Israel alive than dead. Whilst he is President, the West worries about Iran and its potentially nuclear capability. A deal on this issue seems elusive and the consequences for the West rather frightening. What is their “best alternative to a negotiated agreement” with Ahmadinejad on Iran’s nuclear capability? Their best alternative (or BATNA in negotiating speak) is that Israel will provide a bulwark and a deterrent to keep Iran in check. From a negotiating point of view that puts Israel in a powerful position and means Israel is probably cut a little slack in its own dealings with the West on other intractable issues such as the status of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

So, maybe that’s why Israel continues to tolerate Ahmadinejad and the continued expression of his extreme views. In a strange way the hostility he arouses is useful to Israel in its dealings with the West. As one Israeli defence source was quoted as saying in the Article “if he did not exist we would have to invent him” […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Don’t shoot on sight – why Iran’s President is more use to Israel alive

Missed the last 2,000 years? Don’t worry, the middle-east peace talks haven’t started yet

It is no surprise to find the latest round of Middle-East peace talks somewhat be-calmed. Static around whether or not Israel will extend its moratorium on building new settlements misses the point. The progress in the discussions does not depend on whether or not (as it did last Friday) Israel announces the building of new homes in Jerusalem.

There are two issues which effectively mean that negotiations have yet to begin. The first is that, as in any negotiation, one of the critical factors is that both parties actually want to do a deal. That does not seem to be characterize either Israel or the Palestinian approach. Both parties seem currently to prefer being in a state of undeclared war to the possibility of living in a state of peace. So, unless and until that state changes the negotiation can’t really get going. Peace only came to Northern Ireland after the stakeholders all arrived at the same time at the conclusion that they would prefer peace to conflict. It took many years to arrive at that point and it may yet take Israel and the Palestinians some time to get there. Until they do, negotiations about the “content” of any deal are somewhat irrelevant. So questions like what will happen to existing settlements or exactly what recognition of statehood each side will give to the other are a bit of a red herring.

The second issue is that for a negotiation to really get going all the major stakeholders need to be represented. Unless that happens it’s all too easy for the parties not involved to reject the deal. Hamas are not present and it’s easy to understand why their presence is undesirable for the […]

By |October 22nd, 2010|Blog|Comments Off on Missed the last 2,000 years? Don’t worry, the middle-east peace talks haven’t started yet