Sometimes internal negotiations can feel like herding cats.
Tom from procurement wants a lower price. Tim from IT needs a longer timeline. Bob the project manager wants strict adherence to the schedule. Greg from HR wants full and complete compliance. Derek from finance needs the SOW. Henry from operations wants clear procedures. And you, the head of sales, simply want to close the deal.
Even though you all work for one company and are technically a single team, everyone has different, and often conflicting, objectives. To further exacerbate the issue, the heads of these departments are often evaluated and compensated on completely different outcomes.
Internal negotiations can often be trickier than external negotiations, and this might make you feel like you either need some political savvy or Jedi mind tricks to get the job done.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as simply moving the world into place at a small wave of your hand. However, by grounding your next moves in behavior and neuroscience, you’ll be able to manage the tension between all internal parties in time to get the external party to sign on the dotted line.
Why can internal negotiations be so hard?
Internal negotiations tend to be trickier than external because internal parties tend to operate on the false assumption that even though you all have the same goal, everyone also wants the same thing. The fact of the matter is that we are all individuals and want different things.
This is largely why we don’t necessarily correlate our personal interests with the big picture success for the employer. After all, would you not hesitate to push an agreement forward if you knew it would impact you negatively in the end?
We have different ways of being rewarded. Tom from procurement might be evaluated based on pricing. Tim from IT might be judged on meeting deadlines. You, the sales rep, might be rewarded for the size and length of the contract.
The quagmire of the situation is that even though you have different reward systems, you all need each other in order to succeed. No silo within an organization can operate alone, whether you like it or not. All of the parts equal the whole; therefore, the stakes are higher.
This is why it’s best to have everyone aligned and thinking as a team. No one wants to be ostracized and forced into agreements that impact their livelihood negatively. You may see your coworkers every day and work together on hundreds of deals over the years.
Another major reason internal negotiations become entangled is that we don’t plan together for external negotiations. This makes coming up with creative ideas much harder when it’s crunch time. Give-and-take often requires some forethought, and forcing ideas in the tension of an internal meeting can be next to impossible.
Three Things You Can Do Right Away to Facilitate Internal Negotiations
Sometimes internal negotiation mastery can be as simple as making the varying parties like you. Just as in external sales, it really pays off to be persuasive. The most obvious way to get your team to like you is being a likable person who genuinely flourishes in the company of others, regardless of whether you want or don’t want to be lifelong friends with them.
Being likable comes naturally to many but can also be learned with practice. Here are three ways to build rapport with your team:
- Look for things in common and emphasize similarity. Instead of seeking out ways you differ, look for things you have in common. Research shows that we give more concessions to the people we like. Why do we like people? Mostly for the things we have in common. Humans tend to gravitate towards similarities, and finding common ground helps us drop our walls a bit. Think about your non-work friends – are they similar to you in many ways? Finding similarity might be challenging in internal negotiations, especially in incredibly diverse teams. However, finding similarities with other people trains you to build rapport and empathy, leading to more ways to connect with one another, regardless of any obvious similarities or differences.
- Paint a picture of the future, of what you both need to accomplish. If you don’t have a vision of where you want to go, you can’t confidently take any steps to get there. Once you agree on what the vision of a finished deal looks like, the field opens up to various creative options. In order to do this, you must understand what’s important to the other party and why it’s important.
- Build rapport. Sure, there might be some times when you just don’t like the other person. However, even in this situation, you can use common rapport-building skills that don’t require you to like the other person. Be sure to use these sparingly or you might annoy the other person (you’ll see what we’re talking about):
- Mimicking: a subtle and effective body-language technique that helps build trust with small adjustments such as how the other person is sitting, nodding their head, and so on. This should be done discreetly.
- Paraphrasing: clarify the details by replaying what you think they said, but do it in your own words. Not only does this build rapport, but it will also help you avoid incorrect assumptions. This can be done as often as you want, but not everything the other person says needs to be paraphrased for clarity.
- Emotional labeling: this one can be risky if you get it wrong, but when you get it right it can deliver gold in rapport. Simply try to describe what they’re feeling such as “Sounds like you’re feeling overstretched in your department.” This helps build common ground by letting the other person know you understand and are aware of their situation.
Final Thoughts — Collaboration is Optimal
Internal negotiations can be hard, and even if you master rapport-building, you’ll inevitably come across some more complex situations. However, by making use of the strategies above, you’ll be able to find more ways to solve many of the issues that arise with internal teams so you can get back to doing what you love – closing deals.
RED BEAR Negotiation Company is a global performance improvement firm dedicated to maximizing the profitability of the agreements negotiated with customers, suppliers, partners, and colleagues. If you’re interested in empowering your team with world-class negotiation skills, contact us or click here for more information.