Negotiation and Cold Calling – What is your organization up to? (Part 12)

19) What is the next decision you seek?

A characteristic feature of the way untrained negotiators speak is to think in terms of a favorable outcome or event.

How many times have you heard these or similar things?

  • “I want to get that job”

  • “I want at least a 20% hike on my current salary”

  • “I want him/her to start/stop doing ______”

  • “I want him/her to leave me alone”

  • “I want to speak to the decision maker”

  • “I want to get _______”

  • “I want the bank to agree to give me the loan”

  • “I want to buy (sell) it from (to) him/her”

  • “I want him/her to do his/her homework”

  • “I want them to be a bit more punctual”

  • “I want them to take _______ with a bit more seriousness”

  • “I want him/her/them to make a serious offer”

In cold calling, one hears:

  • “I want to get past the gatekeeper”

  • “I want to talk to the decision maker”

  • “I want to make the sale”

  • “I want to set up a meeting”

  • “I want follow up with ______”

  • “I want to find out their timelines/budget/issues etc.”

  • “I want to find out their requirements”

(An “I want _______” mindset instead of an “I need ______” one is in itself a huge advance in not conditioning oneself into a habitual state of neediness. But even that “I want _______” will not provide you with the clarity about what the next decision is, who must make it, and how it will move the negotiation forward.)

For us human beings, it is just as easy to lose our focus as it is to focus on the wrong thing or to focus on the right thing in the wrong way.

The statements above are rife with a number of negotiation errors. Two stand out: these are your-world centered statements and they contain no reference to what you want in terms of a decision from the other side.

Clarity regarding what you really want

When I first encountered Jim’s teaching that I ought to think of “What I want” from a negotiation in terms of a decision from the other side, it made perfect sense. Of course what I want from a negotiation depends on a decision that the other party makes or ought to make. If I can influence that decision, the negotiation can move forward and I can either get what I want or move closer to getting what I want.

What I really want is something that I cannot get without a decision from my adversary. If I could, I wouldn’t be negotiating. I wouldn’t be calling this person if I can get what I want without making this call.

This is one more reason as to why a valid M&P is crucial. Since a valid M&P is built from the problems in the adversary’s world, it helps you see those problems and see clearly the benefits that your efforts are bringing to the adversary. Whether your efforts can help to turn a bad situation around; help the adversary profitably use an existing or emerging opportunity; solve a problem/challenge; or overcome a constraint that is hampering his/her efforts etc., a valid M&P ensures that “what I want” does not trap me in my own world. From that valid M&P, you can derive an M&P that focuses your efforts on discovering whether or not you can actually benefit the adversary. At the start of a cold call, you may only have a broad or vague idea (and sometimes, no idea at all) about the adversary’s exact issues and circumstances. A valid M&P that helps you discover that you cannot help a particular adversary ensures that you don’t spend your budget on this negotiation.

The more focused a person is on chasing invalid goals, the harder it is to develop the clarity of thinking of what one wants in terms of decision that the adversary ought to make. In such instances, the pull of “Quota Land” means that I think of what I want in terms of my world, my quota, my sale, my bonus, or my whatever.

When you see what you want in terms of a decision you want the other person to make – which you must always give the opportunity reject or accept – you gain tremendous focus with regards the reason you are placing this call, talking with this person, and want that person to agree to something or the other. This in itself is tremendous advantage in terms of clarity of thinking, but it is not the only resulting benefit. Simultaneously, thinking in terms of a decision that you want the other to make helps focus your efforts in building vision in terms of that vision, and then of focusing the adversary’s attention on that decision. In this way, you help reduce the clutter or muddle in the adversary’s world and help focus his/her attention on the implications of that decision. Hidden problems may emerge which you can then make the effort to solve. By respecting the right to veto (meaning you are not even thinking in terms of closing); speaking and behaving in a nurturing manner; by being willing to be unokay with respect the other person; and by being and remaining in a state of emotional calm, the person can see what you are asking for – and make a decision that he/she takes responsibility for.

In the Camp System, “what you want” forms part of the agenda you prepare for each negotiation, which in turn forms part of the ultimate tool at your disposal for perfect preparation – the Camp Checklist. I shall write about when I have finished addressing this list of problems that individuals encounter or cause, during cold calling.

20) Inability to calmly navigate those delicate moments when you ask a tough question

Every interaction can take a sudden turn when you feel an intense desire to ask a particular question of say some particular thing but are afraid to. You don’t know how the other person will react to it. (It is infinitely more difficult when using the written medium.) During a conversation in which you cannot see the other person and so cannot observe non-verbal cues, this can make such moments even more trying. You can’t just ask any question you want or say just about anything simply because the other person is sounding calm and relaxed, is listening deeply to what you are saying, or is providing thoughtful answers to your questions. However you slice and dice it, some questions or statements are like a magnifying glass that focuses the sunlight onto a piece of paper sufficiently to cause it to burst into flames. At such moments, even nurturing, being unokay, listening deeply, asking good questions, respecting and encouraging the other’s right to say “no” etc. may still fall short. This is the moment for the tool that you enables you negotiate and pass through those moments, and helps the adversary pass through them too without provoking emotional turmoil. It’s called the “mini-agenda” and it is negotiated in the moment.

Every mini-agenda is a “mini-negotiation”. Using it effectively demands everything that applies in the larger negotiation: nurturing, being unokay, respecting the right to veto, using the 3+ rule etc. Above all, you prepare the other person – emotionally, psychologically and intellectually. You ask if you may ask a tough question of say something that is hard, that may sound self-serving, or that may not be pleasant to hear. This preparing the other person actually cushions the blow. It’s then not something that comes out of nowhere. Only then do you ask that tough question or make that tough statement.

The very fact that you use the mini-agenda prevents emotional pressure from developing – at least as much as is humanly possible. It acknowledges the power and autonomy of the other person – to decide, freely and without compulsion. The person is free to answer or to make any decision that may be required.

The nature of such delicate moments will obviously vary from one situation to the other. But if you don’t get past them, that call is going nowhere, and that negotiation is as good as dead.

21) They want a presentation

In relation to cold calling, many people will consider it crazy that their “wanting a presentation” is a problem that is “encountered” or “caused” during cold calling. I can hear people “Hey, you know what? You really are crazy. If they agreed to a presentation, it implies the call went well.” (Of course if another person is going to make it, the implicit assumption is also that “I hope Joe/Pete/Jan/Jane doesn’t screw it up”.)

A number of training gurus are discovering that presentations are not the great ally or tool they were once thought to be. Of course a large number are still caught up in helping people to make increasingly better presentations. The number of people who earn a living from teaching people to make presentations that will knock the socks off their attendees is not insignificant. I run the risk of drawing their ire by reiterating what we teach at CNI:

(i) The greatest presentation you will ever make is the ones the adversary never sees. This of course happens only if you learn to build vision.

(ii) As much as is humanly possible, get them to present to you.

In cold calling, agreeing to a presentation just because the other person asks for one is a problem that is encountered or caused – and reveals as much naiveté as ignorance. It might even be a sign of underlying neediness.

  • How do you know that the presentation is not designed to get your side to divulge information which can be used to beat you and your competitors on the head? (If they ask you for a presentation, they are probably asking many others. Then, they can watch the unfolding death spiral – to get a deal and any deal regardless of what it costs you.)

  • How do you know that you are presenting to the right people – those whose vision must be built in order to drive the decisions required to move the negotiation forward? How do you know who these people are?

  • How sure are you that the presentation is set in, and tailored to, the adversary’s world, and addresses their real issues?

  • Above all, how sure are you that the presentation will build vision? If it doesn’t it’s a waste of time, effort, and probably lots more.

By definition, a presentation delivers intellectual information. Recall is poor. It also puts people in the intellectual mode. They are agreeing and disagreeing – as the presentation is made. It is a perfect tool to build objections and cause disagreement – which you then have to negotiate. It can easily set up a dysfunctional cycle.

On a cold call, you must negotiate and see if you can get them to present to you. Such a presentation will give you an insight into their challenges and priorities. It might not always be possible, but you must try. If you simply must make a presentation, you must negotiate what it will and won’t contain, to whom your side will be presenting, and what happens after the presentation. Thinking that their agreeing to a presentation has moved the negotiation forward betrays ignorance about how human beings make decisions, and how to discover and build vision. It’s a great tool to hide behind. Compared to making a presentation, building vision (the presentation you don’t make) is demanding.

Please share your thoughts and comment below.


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