Negotiation Training: What’s Special About Technology Negotiations?

Bargaining over technological contracts and software licensing agreements involves different dynamics than your standard transactional negotiations.

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negotiation training whats special about technology negotiations

Executives are increasingly faced with the task of negotiating in a realm that many know little about: technology.

Whether you’re bargaining over the purchase of a companywide network, coping with the possible infringement of patented technology, or seeking better customer service from a software supplier, technology negotiations have become a fact of managerial life.



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How do such negotiations differ from those that are less technologically complex?

You can anticipate four specific problems to crop up more often in the technology arena:

1 Complexity

Negotiations over new technology require sophisticated knowledge of hardware or software that’s beyond the scope of most managers. If those trained in science and technology assume the others at the table are speaking their language, serious misunderstandings can result.

2 Uncertainty

When highly complex systems are at stake, no one can be sure whether they will perform as promised when configured for a particular business environment. Different estimates of how a technology will perform can lead to negotiation battles.

3 Egos

Those who design or advocate for a new technology often become additional players when they have a vested interest in the outcomes of a negotiation. Technology advocates – and their egos – can complicate otherwise straightforward talks.

4 Organizational Change

The various organizational changes required by negotiated agreements can provoke conflict between parties during implementation. Staffers may have trouble maintaining or repairing new technology, accessing its intellectual underpinnings, or acquiring replacement parts.

Negotiators embroiled in high-tech deals must take purposeful steps to avoid these pitfalls. Through our executive training, we have identified three ways of sidestepping these difficulties:

1 Avoid communication errors and build trust

2 Manage complexity and uncertainty

3 Prepare for strategic realignment

Related Negotiation Training Article: Integrative Negotiations Examples: Negotiating Skills and Negotiation Tactics for Managing Relationships – Learn how to manage relationships at and away from the negotiation table with the negotiation advice found in this article.


Build powerful negotiation skills and become a better dealmaker and leader. Download our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


Adapted from “What’s Special About Technology Negotiations” by Lawrence Susskind in the May 2006 issue of the Negotiation newsletter.

Originally published in 2013.

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