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...

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.

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