Spring has sprung. This time of year is all about renewal and rebirth. For farmers and gardeners alike, it’s time to think about new growth and the next harvest. Since 1818, many of them have turned to the Farmers’ Almanac for guidance. The Farmers’ Almanac is a compendium of knowledge on weather, gardening, home remedies, preserving the earth, and more. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Business Almanac too? I took some of the advice found in the Farmers' Almanac, businessized it, and found some good advice for negotiators.
If there’s change today, it’s an opportunity to break away.
It’s not uncommon for there to be changes to a contract after it’s been agreed to. Some try to fight the changes, others just bellyache about them, while others still give in to the demand for change. However, the wise dealmaker sees change as an opportunity to augment the deal in a manner that works for them too.
Just suppose the other party comes to you a few months into a deal, asking to make changes to what you’ve already agreed to. It’s a great opportunity to think about what you would need in return in order to make those changes. You could use this opportunity to fix what you don’t like or make the deal more valuable for you. In other words, it’s your opportunity to break away from what once was and move in a new direction.
Renew before the end, maintain a long-term friend.
It seems as though the longer it takes to renew a contract, the more opportunity there can be for change. In some cases, that might also be a signal that the change is not renewing at all. Regardless, if your intent is to renew a deal, it’s better to get started sooner rather than later in terms of laying the groundwork for the renewal.
Identify early on potential changes that might have to be made to scope, terms, or pricing. Revisit your original preparation for the current deal to get an understanding of where you started and ended. Look for any outstanding issues that need to be addressed. Assess the other party’s current needs (don’t assume they’re the same as when you first signed your deal). Then prepare your approach for the renegotiation, leaving plenty of time to renew the deal before it expires — this will save you both from scrambling to renew before the clock runs out.
Bad news first brings good news thirst.
Many negotiators get nervous about delivering bad news — e.g., they can’t do something that the other party wants or deal terms have changed. Instead of addressing the bad news first, it’s common practice to push a difficult topic to the end. Some hope that once they deal with the more agreeable or easier topics, their sheer momentum will somehow make the more difficult topics easier to negotiate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Obstacles are still obstacles, no matter what kind of running start you get.
Smart negotiators will address the more difficult topics early, the lesson being this: Instead of wasting time on things that don’t matter as much, focus on the things that do. Once those obstacles are dealt with, then everything else gets easier and goes faster. If you can’t overcome the obstacles, then you can move on to your alternative sooner rather than later.
Regardless of the wisdom you take from our Business Almanac, we hope you find ways to create more valuable deals through your renewals. After all, that’s the best thing about spring — it’s an opportunity to start fresh. This is why hope springs eternal deals.
We Can Help You Create More Valuable Deals Through Your Renewals.
Are you negotiating with a party that’s looking to make changes to a contract after it’s already been agreed to? Are you working on renewing a contract that includes changes to scope, terms, or pricing? Do you have difficult topics that must be addressed before the deal can be closed? We can help! Drawing on nearly 50 years of real-world negotiating experience, we’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our advisers, ensuring that you’ve got the broadest view of your deal.