Elegant Solutions in Business Negotiations

By — on / Business Negotiations

You’re facing business negotiations with the goliath in your industry. What’s your choice? Take what little the other side offers or be squeezed out of the market entirely?

In his February 2006 article in Negotiation newsletter, “Negotiating with a 900-Pound Gorilla,” MIT Professor Lawrence Susskind suggests seeking an elegant solution, a counterproposal that will create even more value for both sides than what one side is trying to impose. This often means exploiting the underused resources of one negotiating partner for the benefit of both.

There are several ways to generate an elegant solution in your negotiations with a stronger partner. First you can try altering your own business strategy by, for example, looking for low-cost ways to generate greater returns under your current contract with a larger company.

Secondly, you should further explore the other side’s interests to identify ways in which you may be able to help them solve an existing problem or address an ongoing concern within their organization.  Finally, consider other ways of creating value for the stronger party. For example, you could initiate a joint-branding venture or develop a plan that would bring in new customers and more revenue for the stronger party as well as your company while retaining your current position at the bargaining table.

Regardless of how you approach the negotiating table, be sure you are working with the right players. The 900-pound gorilla may treat each negotiation as an opportunity to demonstrate its strength and trample its opponents. In situations like this it may be best to seek out the gorilla’s handler, someone with more decision-making power, and submit an elegant proposal that’s better for them than your existing deal.

Related Article: Negotiating for a Higher Salary

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
501 Pound Hall
1563 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

tel 1-800-391-8629
tel (if calling from outside the U.S.) +1-301-528-2676
fax 617-495-7818