January 8, 2024

PIECEMEAL AGREEMENTS VS LUMP-SUM AGREEMENTS

Many of today's negotiations can become very complex and involve many varying issues. Should these complex negotiations begin with agreements in principle or are you better served by leaning towards starting with agreement on a fact-by-fact, issue-by-issue basis?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both negotiating approaches. How you start can determine where you end up.

Piecemeal negotiations build gradual trust and permit the parties to get a better feel for the whole story. Each party learns about each other’s needs and priorities. The step-by-step inquiry process uncovers the risk areas and often revels hidden opportunities. The piecemeal process works best when detailed information is available and overall differences between the two parties are not too large.

Advocates of a Lump Sum or “agreement in principle” approach start differently. Logical principles are first established. Then, conflicts involving specific facts and issues can be fitted into the agreed to framework. Issues can be traded in a broad-brush way to for other issues. The focus of bargaining becomes related to overall performance rather than the details.

I favor a hybrid approach that blends both the piecemeal and the lump-sum concepts. I like to start by stating the principles that govern my thinking and exploring what is most important to the other party. I do not seek agreement on principle, but only an insight in the other’s viewpoint. Once this broad framework is established, I negotiate on a piecemeal basis for these tactical reasons:

  1. People have a need for closure and this is satisfied, in part, by piecemeal agreements.
  2. Piecemeal agreements can reveal much about a person’s personality and the intensity of their needs and positions.
  3. Perceptive listening during a piecemeal process may reveal weaknesses in the other party’s position and power structure.
  4. An item-by-item discussion permits a person to retreat gracefully from unrealistic positions and still fulfill the behavioral expectations of those he or she represents.
  5. During these item-by-item discussions we frequently discover mutual opportunities that neither of us thought about – opportunities that often pave the way to a more satisfying and rewarding agreements for both of us.

If one agrees in principle, one need not agree on the parts. If one agrees on the parts, one need not agree on the whole.

Some people sell themselves short by feeling that their integrity is at stake on each issue. Once committed on a point, they are embarrassed to retreat. Nonsense! In negotiation the sum of the parts need not equal the whole. The deal is done when we shake hands. Not before.

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Deanna D.
CASE MANAGER at THE JACKSON LABORATORY

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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

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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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