Negotiating Tips, Negotiation Strategies June 24, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Team Negotiation

Negotiation is a team effort. Working with a team allows you to draw upon other perspectives and experiences, which can help you close a deal. This article will not only help you understand the importance of team negotiations, but it will also help you make the best negotiating team possible.

The Importance of Team Negotiation

The size of a team has a profound influence on negotiation results; it affects how well the members plan together and how long they take to settle. In Dr. Karrass’s experiments, he deliberately matched teams one on one, two on two, and three against three. Dr. Karrass found that three-person teams took longer to plan and did a better job of it than one or two person teams.

When a person negotiated alone, he or she spent hardly any time getting ready. Dr. Karrass’s conclusion is that if you want better planning, have three people (or at least two) work on it together.

Dr. Karrass also learned that three-people teams took longest to close. When people are matched one on one, they settled quickly. This result is understandable because people in teams have to satisfy each other's needs and have to reconcile their differences before they can say “yes.” The larger groups recessed often to talk things over.

One-person bargainers did not recess at all. If you believe, as Dr. Karrass does, that a longer negotiation is usually a better one, then go into the session with people at your side.

One of the hallmarks of KARRASS negotiation training is that planning is a key step to improving the outcome of your negotiations. The more you plan, the better equipped you are to deal with the unique circumstances and conditions every negotiation brings.

Dr. Karrass’s research shows that people avoid negotiating in teams because it tends to take longer, and requires more recess and a slower pace. Yet, these factors are what specifically contribute to greater success in negotiation.

If you want to improve your chances of creating a positive outcome, plan at length, take frequent breaks, slow down the pace of negotiation, and negotiate in teams of at least three.

So how do you go about building your team? First, you need a team leader.

The Team Leader

Any team needs a leader. Negotiation team leaders are responsible for many items: having and sharing a negotiating strategy; ensuring team preparedness; assigning roles; motivating the team etc. While all of these roles are important, below are a list of qualities that every team leader should work on:

Negotiation strategy

If you are going to lead a negotiation team, you must be extremely familiar with negotiation strategies (and tactics). It is not enough to merely know the tactics that will ensure success—you must be able to explain them in a way that your team understands.

Team Management

In business literature, there is a distinction between leadership and management, but as Robert I. Sutton writes in the Harvard Business Review blog “True Leaders are Also Managers”: “... the best leaders do something that might properly be called a mix of leadership and management. At a minimum, they lead in a way that constantly takes into account the importance of management.” Otherwise, leaders can lose sight of what their team is doing. Sutton writes: “’ Big picture only" leaders often make decisions without considering the constraints that affect the cost and time required to implement them, and even when evidence begins mounting that it is impossible or unwise to implement their grand ideas, they often choose to push forward anyway.” Read more here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/08/true_leaders_are_also_managers.html

Being human

Treating your team well will result in loyalty and cohesiveness. In his book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David J. Schwartz, Ph.D., writes that leaders should: “Apply the Be-Human rule in your dealings with others. Ask, ‘What is the human way to handle this?’ In everything you do, show that you put people first. Just give other people the kind of treatment you like to receive. You’ll be rewarded.”

Taking responsibility

Leaders will take ownership of their team’s failures and successes, and they will work to correct mistakes and replicate things that work. Part of taking responsibility is assigning the right task to the right team member.


Now that we understand how to pick a team leader, we need to work on building the actual team:

Building Your Negotiating Team

Team negotiations can often be more productive than solo business negotiations, as we’ve discussed before. But, as any manager knows, building up a good, cohesive negotiation team is not always easy.

First things first: team leaders must select people whom they respect. If you don’t feel good about who is on your side, you will find it very hard to win.

Negotiating team members bring different strengths to the negotiation table, which is why you should look for diverse backgrounds and talents. If a team is completely homogeneous—everyone is a salesperson, for example—then you will lose a competitive advantage over the other party. The more knowledge you have on your side, the better.

Managers will need to work to motivate their team members and also build loyalty. A non-cohesive, non-motivated team could spell major trouble in a negotiation. On BNet.com, Richard Leyland wrote the article “7 Ways to Build a Loyal Team.” Read the whole article here, but we particularly like the seventh way that Leyland advocates:

“Put employees into the bigger picture.

This should be something every manager thinks about from recruitment onwards. Employees look to team leaders to remind them why their work is important in the big picture, and to create excitement about what the company is doing.”

Good teams are primed to win because a group effort has so much power. As the famous football coach Vince Lombardi said:

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Still not convinced that you need a team to negotiate with you? Well keep reading:

Team Negotiation Gets Results

When conducting business negotiations, there are very few instances where it is better to do it individually rather than as a team.

There are many advantages to team negotiating:

  • Broad base of knowledge
  • Teams are more creative than individuals
  • Teams are involved in better planning and better thinking
  • Teams set higher targets for negotiations
  • Team members reinforce each other’s strengths

According to Dr. Karrass (In Business As in Life, You Don't Get What You Deserve You Get What You Negotiate)

“The advantages of team negotiations are overwhelming. Teams bring a broad base of knowledge to the table. They are more creative than individuals. Properly organized, they are less apt to overlook important details. They plan better and, as a group, think better.”

Whenever you are negotiating in a team you must have a good team leader. Team leaders are tactful and flexible. They know how to manage a diverse group of folks to achieve one end result. Team leaders must be able to control the content and flow of the discussion.

Having the right team will make the difference. Dr. Karrass advises that you should never negotiate with a second-rate team. Take the time to recruit the best members for your negotiating team, and this will pay off in a more favorable negotiation.

Additionally, make sure your team gets along on a personal level. As Dr. Karrass writes (Negotiating Effectively Within Your Own Organization) “ Where people work together collaboratively and cooperatively to meet goals, and where they show respect for one another by listening to diverse views, work becomes fun and gets done more effectively. When individuals in organizations fail to communicate or fail to work out disputes through civil give and take, the organization wastes its collective energy and resources in bickering and discord. Production and the capacity to meet challenges innovatively diminish.”

Now that you know the importance of a negotiating team, and how to form the best one, you will be better prepared in all your negotiations going forward.

THE PROGRAM WAS GREAT! MY SEMINAR LEADER AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURSE KEPT ME CONSTANTLY STIMULATED. I NOW AM BETTER PREPARED TO GO INTO AN IMPORTANT NEGOTIATION MEETING AND STAY IN CONTROL, WHILE FINISHING THE MEETING SATISFIED.

Deanna D.
CASE MANAGER at THE JACKSON LABORATORY

IF YOU HAVE THE TRAINING BUDGET AND TWO DAYS TO SPARE, YOU'LL STRUGGLE TO FIND A PROGRAM MORE FAR-REACHING, ON-POINT, AND INSTANTLY IMPLEMENTABLE.

Jeff G.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER at THE M.K. MORSE COMPANY

EXCELLENT COURSE, BRINGS MORE CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE. I THINK THIS COURSE IS A MUST FOR ALL EMPLOYEES WHO DEAL WITH CUSTOMERS.

John S.
CHIEF ENGINEERING MANAGER at EXXONMOBIL

THIS WAS VERY EFFECTIVE WITH A STRONG FOCUS ON BOTH-WIN NEGOTIATING.

Kathleen L.
SENIOR ANALYST at BLUE CROSS/BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN

THE KARRASS CLASS WAS THE SINGLE BEST TRAINING CLASS/SEMINAR I HAVE EVER ATTENDED. EVERY TIME WE DID AN EXERCISE IT TAUGHT YOU WHAT TO DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME. THANKS.

Kim C.
PROCUREMENT at AMERICAN EXPRESS

THIS PROGRAM HAS GREATLY INCREASED MY CONFIDENCE AND ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE FOR MYSELF AS WELL AS MY COMPANY.

LaDonna E.
SENIOR STRATEGIC BUYER at HALLMARK

THE NEGOTIATING CLASS WAS VERY INFORMATIVE. THE INSTRUCTOR PROVIDED AN INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO EVERYDAY LIFE.

Mary S.
INTERNATIONAL SOURCING at FMC TECHNOLOGIES

WE NEGOTIATE EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES, BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. THIS COURSE DEFINES THE PROCESS AND PROVIDES TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE SUCCESSFUL RESULTS.

Phillip H.
VICE PRESIDENT at GE

PRIOR TO THIS CLASS I FELT AS THOUGH I WAS GETTING EATEN ALIVE BY INTERNAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH SALES REPS. NOW I FEEL PREPARED TO CHALLENGE WHAT THEY ARE SAYING AND BET TO THEIR REAL NEEDS.

Steve Q.
PLANNER at HONEYWELL

MANY PEOPLE FAIL TO ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL BECAUSE THEY DON’T SEE THE OPPORTUNITIES TO NEGOTIATE A WIN/WIN AGREEMENT WITH THEIR COLLEAGUES. THIS CLASS IS AN EYE OPENER TO THIS DYNAMIC..

Stuart B.
CONTRACTS MANAGER at HEWLETT-PACKARD
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