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Leaders: Questions for Success

Brian Buck
220418 Questions For Leaders
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Recently, I hosted a workshop for leaders and managers of dealmakers. It was an outstanding session, attended by some very smart and dynamic people — all of them focused on guiding their teams to success via great management skills and experience. During the session, one question was asked repeatedly: “How do I know if my team will get the best deal?” In my experience, there are three questions that will help you determine whether or not your team is set up for a successful negotiation.


“What does the other side want?”

Before your team gets to the negotiating table, ask them, “What does the other side want?” Their answer must be more than “the deal.” They should be able to articulate what the other side wants out of the deal, including specific issues that need to be addressed. If they can’t, then they’ve likely spent their time thinking only about their own position. This is going to limit their ability to get to a deal efficiently and effectively.

In any negotiation, there are two or more parties negotiating. A deal will close only if all parties’ issues have been addressed. Therefore, those who get more valuable deals are those who not only understand what they want out of the deal, but also what the other party wants. 

If your team can’t answer this question to your satisfaction, then encourage them to consider the deal from the other side’s point of view. If they struggle with this, then encourage them to reach out to find out. If that’s not possible, then counsel them to spend the first part of the negotiation asking a lot of questions.


“What’s most important to them and why?”

Not only is it important to understand what the other side wants, but it’s also critical to find out what’s most important to them and why. If your team can’t answer this question, then they’ll likely struggle with creating value in the deal. Understanding the other side’s priorities and motives will give them a better perspective on their own leverage and how to create a more valuable deal.

Almost every negotiator will know what’s important to them and their own priorities, but skilled negotiators will also uncover this about the other side. In fact, they’ll use that knowledge to their advantage in order to trade things of lesser importance/value for things of greater importance/value.

If your team can’t answer this question to your satisfaction, then have them make some assumptions about the other party’s priorities and motivations. From there, have them create a list of questions to test those assumptions — before they execute a strategy based on faulty assumptions.


“What will you get in return?”

During a negotiation, concessions will be made. You may even hear your team talk about “giving a discount” or “giving in on terms.” Instead of making them justify the give they want to make, ask them, “What will you get in return?” (Hint: “The deal” is never the right answer!) 

It’s good that your team is thinking about concessions. After all, negotiating is a trading process that does require a concession on your part. But making a concession without getting something in return is just a freebie, otherwise known as goodwill. It also means that your team missed an opportunity to create more value for your side of the deal.

If your team can’t tell you what they will get in return, then they’re probably not ready to maximize the value of the deal. Encourage them to plan their concessions and their asks. Have them think about what they need in return for what the other side may ask for. Once you’re satisfied with their answer, give them the latitude to make those trades.

* * * *

In my experience, these three questions get to the heart of how well your team is set up for success. They’ll let you know if your team is ready to create the best deal possible because if they can answer them, then you can feel confident that they have good insight into:

  • their own power and leverage
  • the value they bring to the table
  • a strategy to get a deal that everyone can support

I wish you the best in leading your team to their best deals.

We Can Help You Determine If Your Team Is Set Up for a Successful Negotiation.
Are you responsible for guiding a team of dealmakers to success? If so, do you find yourself asking this all-too-common question: “How do I know if my team will get the best deal?” 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.

Talk to one of our experts today.

Brian Buck
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