My youngest daughter graduates high school this week, and I’m sad. I’m super excited for her and her next adventure and about my next chapter with my wife, but I’m sad that the magical childhood moments are over. It’s a reminder that change is inevitable and can trip up the best of us if we’re not paying attention.
Besides working with my current team, one of my best group experiences took place in 2011. I had the opportunity to build a 1,500-person retail marketing field team from the ground up for the launch of Google’s Chromebook. Our objective was to educate customers about Chromebooks while promoting and selling the devices within various retail chains. As exciting as it was to win the deal, I had no idea how much better it would be to execute it.
During our kickoff meeting, after we’d won the business, we were apparently a little too deferential to the Chromebook team, asking them for their preferences regarding how we did our work. They stopped us and said, “Bring your best self to work, and everything else will work itself out.”
In marketing and advertising, I was so used to clients telling me what to do and how to do it that I was taken off guard by the option of doing it the way we wanted to. Needless to say, we embraced the opportunity. We grew close with the Chromebook team as they encouraged us to be ourselves and do what we knew needed to be done. They called it being “Googlely.” We called it “amazing.”
Along the way, I remember telling my team to savor the moment. I’d been around the block enough times to know that this was unusual, and that it wouldn’t always be that way. Change is inevitable.
After its launch and early success, the program matured. Many of the original players moved on to bigger opportunities, including myself: I left the agency to start a new one. After my departure, the retail landscape changed, the program had different objectives, and the team on both sides of the negotiating table was different. I’d check in on them occasionally and was saddened to see the once-best team experience I ever had become a bit more mundane. Eventually, both parties parted ways, and our original program became a distant memory. The magic had gone.
A few years later, I talked with some of the people who negotiated the latter deals. They said that one of the relationship’s downfalls was that everyone involved assumed nothing had changed. In fact, everything had changed, but no one adjusted.
With any contract renewal, it’s good to take a minute and test assumptions via these three simple questions, which will help determine if you need to adjust your approach:
- Are the players the same? This concerns not just the negotiators at the table but also the stakeholders and decision-makers. These individuals play an important role in getting a deal done, and any change can have an impact.
- Are the acceptance criteria the same? Any change to how a deal is evaluated or its success metrics can have an impact on the negotiation and your approach to it.
- Are circumstances the same? Deals are based on known circumstances and conditions; any significant changes to those since the time of the last deal can impact the new deal.
If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” then don’t assume that you can get a deal done in the same manner as you did before. If the answer to all of those questions is “yes,” then you should start your negotiation by ensuring that the other side sees it the same way, which will confirm that you’re aligned. If you are, then enjoy the process till something changes!
As I prepare to watch my daughter graduate, this lesson echoes in my mind. She will still be my daughter — that hasn’t changed. She will still love us, and we will still love her no matter what — that hasn’t changed. But the circumstances are surely changing. As she prepares to head off to college and start her life, we must evolve our parenting style to ensure a solid relationship with her moving forward. I’ll miss the early days when a ride on my shoulders or twirling her around resolved most of our conflicts. That was magical.
We Can Help You Know If You’ll Need to Adjust Your Approach to a Contract Renewal.
If your team is approaching a contract renewal, have they tested their assumptions to determine if they’ll have to adjust their approach? We can help! Draw on Scotwork’s nearly 50 years of real-world negotiating experience to get better deals, save time, and create value that preserves and strengthens relationships. Partner with one of our advisers to ensure you have the optimum view of your deal.