“Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.” – G. K. Chesterton
“If a problem can’t be solved within the frame it was conceived, the solution lies in reframing the problem.” – Brian McGreevy
A skilled negotiator is a visual artist, much like a painter or photographer. This is because effective negotiation entails constructing a favorable perspective of the world, and then sharing that perspective with whoever it is you’re negotiating with. If you’re in discussions with a prospective customer, for example, you’re effectively tasked with painting a picture of your product or service that resonates with them – both functionally according to their needs and on a deeper, more abstract level.
As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, positioning your product or service advantageously at the outset of every negotiation is essential for consistently favorable outcomes. The is best achieved by painting a positive picture of your offering around a strong positioning theme.
And the best way to do that? A simple technique called framing.
Putting “framing” in frame
Framing involves analyzing the negotiation situation and then turning that analysis into the most favorable context to present in the negotiation. There are three key steps here. First, you need to identify as much relevant information as possible: from specific details of your organization and product, to wider environmental factors and industry trends.
Then, you need to sort through all this data to identify common themes and groupings. Note that a single piece of information can relate to a number of different themes. For instance, a SaaS provider’s innovations in cloud technology might be grouped according to a data security theme, a scalability theme, or an employee productivity theme.
Lastly, you should pick the strongest positioning theme that’s most suitable for the particular customer. By going through this framing process you’re actively shaping the other party’s frame of reference and controlling what they pay attention to. Think of yourself as a photographer that controls the viewer’s focus and guides their attention to objects in the foreground.
It’s a frame-or-be-framed world out there
Framing takes place in every negotiation whether you’re aware of it or not. Much like anchoring, if you don’t take control of the process and actively frame the negotiation, then you’re all but handing the “camera” to the other party and letting them define the shot. This will almost definitely result in a disadvantageous situation.
People naturally draw on contextual information to inform any decision. If you’re looking for a web development agency to redesign your site, you’re probably not going with a company that uses an out-of-the-box WordPress template for their own site. This context betrays a lack of creativity and lowers their perceived value. By taking charge and deliberately framing a negotiation, you’re creating favorable context, building your perceived value, and increasing the likelihood of a profitable deal.
At RED BEAR, we’re experts at creating targeted negotiation strategies that can help today’s professionals across industries gain a consistent, tangible advantage. To learn more about our approach to helping you and your team develop sharp and effective situational negotiation skills, click here.