Crowd Research NegotiationI commissioned research by YouGov about how Britain negotiates for my book, “The Yes Book”, out on Random House on March 28th.

YouGov interviewed 1,000 companies up and down the country of all types and sizes. The results were then assessed by the Centre for Economic and Business Research – one of the leading economics agencies in the country. Based on the results, they worked out that UK Plc loses more than £9 million per hour from poor negotiation, such as using antiquated bargaining tactics and not being prepared – equalling £17 billion per year (article here). That’s the equivalent of an extra 650,000 jobs for the UK economy.

You can read all about the research in the book, but here are some interesting additional stats, arising from the fact that the research responses were broken out between small and large companies, by region and between male and female responses.

Negotiating traits of small companies

* 66% of deals for Small companies are “repeat business” with customers or suppliers – meaning that the consequences of something going wrong in a deal are likely to be amplified many times over.

This is a higher percentage than for medium and large sized companies, so, you would think that Small companies have every reason to negotiate effectively. In fact however, across every single measurement of deal preparedness, Small companies seem to negotiate less effectively than larger ones. This covers everything from assigning roles within your own team, knowing what your Plan B is, thinking about the attitude and motivations of the other side, and sorting out basics of the negotiation like agenda, timetable and venue.

* Small companies also seem to be less effective tactically – more often sticking to the same style of negotiation than medium or larger sized companies (rather than being flexible and adaptable) and more often acting on impulse (almost 50% of the time).

* Perhaps it’s not surprising on this basis that Small Companies are more than twice as likely as larger companies to think that negotiation is “unimportant”. This is clearly a problem given that small companies also report themselves as twice as likely as larger companies to be on the receiving end of tough guy tactics such as deadline pressures and take it or leave it ultimatums.

Interesting regional variations

* The North East seems to be the roughest area of the country to negotiate – with 62% of respondents reporting that they use tough guy tactics when negotiating and 47% reporting that they notice tough guy tactics used against them – both higher than for any other region.

* Wales seems to be a region where people don’t consciously use a negotiating framework when negotiating. It was the region where respondents most often responded that they don’t take into account key aspects of preparation, and also the region where people reported negotiating generally as being least important – only 3% of respondents put it in their top three priorities for their business, by far the lowest total for any region.

Variations between male and female responses

Men vs Women Negotiation* Women report themselves as not enjoying negotiation more than men – almost one third of women giving this response as opposed to only one fifth of men.

* Women also report “tough guy” tactics being used against them almost twice as often as men. This may be consistent with numerous research findings which suggest that women are not as attuned to the rough and tumble of conventional negotiating as men and frequently obtain less of what they want as a result. I am always puzzled by this kind of research as my practical experience has been that women are capable of being at least as good at negotiating as men. It’s a subject I consider in some detail in the book, and my conclusion is that women can handle negotiations just as well as men provided they follow the one key tip I set out there… anyway, take a look at the book and see if you agree with me!