Whether you’re heading into a negotiation, preparing for an important conversation, or tackling a creative endeavor, you’re going to need to utilize a Framing skill to be able to execute effectively.
Framing is a critical skill for all negotiators, communicators, and creatives because it helps us consistently develop powerful positioning themes, even as the negotiation evolves in unexpected directions.
Framing and positioning go hand in hand. Positioning allows us to prepare the strongest arguments in our favor ahead of time. Framing is the actual execution and communication of the dialogue as needed in order to keep the conversation within the most favorable frame of reference for our value proposition.
Even the best negotiators aren’t immune from getting tongue-tied when framing in a negotiation. That’s why it’s critical to always prepare by surveying the landscape, including all the relevant information, issues, and facts surrounding the negotiation. What are competitors charging? What advantages do competitors have over you? Are there any weaknesses in your position? What other negotiables can you leverage to sweeten your position and close a deal?
Once you have an idea of the playing field, get to know the other party more. What aspects seem most important to their company, their boss, and themselves? What objections are they likely to have?
After you’ve adequately prepared, the preparation job isn’t completely done. Arguably, the most important step is learning the best dialogue to verbally establish your position and move the deal towards a productive and mutually beneficial close.
In this article, we’re going to go over the 12 best framing dialogue types to help structure your negotiations to help you land more deals.
1. Focusing on positive rather than negative:
“Your restaurant customers will love this higher-grade hamburger. It’s 75 percent lean beef,” vs. “Your restaurant customers will love this higher- grade hamburger. It’s only 25 percent fat.”
By focusing on the positive quality, you’re able to paint a better picture even though the fundamental product is the same.
2. Avoiding a loss rather than gaining an advantage:
“This is really about protecting your investment, and minimizing the risk that…” vs. “This is about leveraging the investment you’ve made in…”
Humans tend to be much more risk-averse, and most people in buying decisions usually report to a manager. They might look good if they score a big win, but it’s usually overshadowed by the possibility of looking bad by losing the company money.
3. Comparing to a similar situation:
“This car is a potential collectible. The ‘sports’ model of this car is a real classic, and has sold for as much as five times what I am asking.”
Similar situations serve as data points that validate your value proposition, and this strategy is a very effective means to alleviate any of the other party’s hesitations.
4. Using favorable language:
“Your investment in our solution is only __per user,” vs. “This box costs __a unit.”
This dialogue is super useful for raming because it reduces the negotiator’s cognitive load to make the connection themselves, and more importantly, expresses your understanding of their industry and the value of your product.
5. Using the other party’s verbiage:
“What we’re really talking about is a way to increase EVA, reduce store-to-store inventory churn, and shorten the distribution chain.”
Showing that you understand the other party’s business helps them see that your value goes beyond your product and that you serve as a potential good long-term partner.
6. Re-framing the other party’s position:
“Instead of looking at this as an increase in your costs, let’s look at it as an investment in productivity improvement over the next six months.”
This principle is very useful for countering a series of objections and re-framing the context of the negotiation in your favor.
7. Making a problem the reason for the solution:
“I understand that our delivery schedule has been a problem. That’s exactly the reason why this solution will work so well for you.”
This framing dialogue magically inverts the situation in your favor. It’s not easy to execute, but with the proper preparation and some creativity, you’ll be able to turn your negatives into positives. A major asset here is having additional negotiables that help distract away from the negative and paint a better picture of the positives.
8. Following the crowd:
“It’s about lowering your risk. After all, this solution is the same one used by eight of the top ten e-commerce companies.”
Humans are very social creatures, which is largely why reviews have become such an important purchasing decision for millions of Yelpers and Amazon shoppers.
“Industry Week’s annual buyer survey ranked us No. 1 for the fifth year in a row.”
If you have any recognition from reputable media outlets or other forms of public credibility, leverage them to drive your point home and frame yourself as a leader in the space.
10. Competition for scarce resources:
“Only a few of our technicians are certified to do this work. We need to move now so we can lock in their schedules and meet your deadline.”
The other party isn’t just looking to purchase a product, they’re ultimately looking for something that positions them in a more favorable financial position and ahead of their competition. By establishing the scarcity of your resources, the other party is placed in a more urgent mindset that favors closing the deal before the competition.
11. Reciprocity or obligation:
“We’ve supported you in the past year, and need you to come through for us now.”
If you have a good working relationship with a party, you can leverage your history to move forward with a mutually beneficial deal.
“This solution has worked for you year after year. Why switch now?”
We are creatures of habit, and this tenet reinforces that. Additionally, this one is tied to an open-ended question that could potentially reveal more high-quality information that you can utilize to make a better deal.
Each of the above dialogues is a great asset to add to your negotiation vernacular. Of course, they must be molded to fit your specific situation, and the landscape of framing and handling objections isn’t just limited to these twelve tenets, but it’s a very strong start.
The next step is to put these into practice live in a negotiation.