How To Position Your Case For Negotiation Success

By Bradley Chowles October 10, 2019 | 3 min read

When you enter into any kind of negotiation – be it a sales negotiation, a salary discussion, or even asking someone out on a date – how easy it is to get what you want depends on what the other party thinks of your offer. If they don’t think it’s worth much, you’ll have very little leverage and will struggle to walk away with your desired outcome. But if the other party knows the value of your offering (and you play this to your advantage), you’ll have a far easier time getting exactly what you want.

This is why it’s so important to position your case favorably right at the outset of the negotiation. What’s more, this should be done clearly and succinctly with a strong value proposition that you can reiterate throughout the process. Many salespeople assume the other party already knows the value of their product or service. As such, they often skip positioning altogether and dive into the thick of it with groundless demands and needless concessions.

In this blog post, we’ll explore one of our 6 Principles of Successful Negotiation: how to position your case advantageously.

Value is in the eye of the beholder

Showing the value of a product is more of an art form than you might think, as there’s more to it than simply listing specs and features. (If this was the case, the marketing industry would be little more than a giant repository of spec sheets and user manuals.) What something is worth always comes down to how valuable a specific individual or group of individuals perceives it to be. A hundred dollar bill doesn’t have much practical value in and of itself. You can’t eat it, you can’t wear it, and it probably won’t help you fend off a pack of wolves. But in an economic context where everyone believes dollars are valuable, you’ll have little trouble convincing someone to hand over their goods and services in exchange.

Most negotiations are a bit more complex than a simple cash transaction, as price is rarely the only variable. Even when price is the primary factor, it’s anchored to what the other party thinks is appropriate given their perceived value of your offering.

Moral of the story? A great positioning at the start of the negotiation will significantly extend your counter-party’s range of reason, making it possible to achieve higher, more favorable pricing. Just remember that any price will be too high if you haven’t established value in the eye of the buyer.

Great positioning is brief, compelling, and repeatable

When positioning your case, it might be tempting to include every potentially valuable nugget of information in the hope that something sticks. But this can have the opposite effect, as it dilutes your core positioning with too much data and unnecessary information.

Research has shown that the most successful negotiators use around half as much data to make their case when compared to average negotiators. This is why it’s far more effective to pick a few of your most compelling value propositions to form the basis of your positioning, and then to repeat them frequently over the course of the negotiation process. If your positioning is simple to understand and easy to repeat, it’s far more likely to be communicated verbatim up the food chain when your counter-party is debriefing their boss.

Just remember that, above all else, your positioning should revolve around something that’s important to the other party. Always do as much research as possible before going into the negotiation, so you’re able to tell the other party’s genuine needs from their superfluous wants.

At RED BEAR, we’re experts at creating targeted negotiation strategies that can help organizations across industries achieve consistent negotiation success. To learn more about our approach to helping you and your team develop sharp and effective negotiation skills, click here.


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