By: Chuck Nau
Negotiating, or the simple art of working with another to reach an agreement, is often challenging even in good times. Layer on top of that challenge a tough economic and an ever evolving media environment, and it’s easy to understand how troublesome seeking resolution, compromise or agreement with another can become.
Very often in your selling and managing career you are called upon to negotiate, and that alone may cause you a certain amount of anxiety. More often than not, many of us might anticipate that any and all negotiations with advertisers are difficult situations …
To help diffuse your anxiety, minimize some of the consternation, and strengthen your confidence, remind yourself that in negotiating, your objective is not to win or lose at the expense of the other. Don’t look at the negotiation as a problem, but rather an opportunity to excel! Your objective is to seize the opportunity to build a bridge and establish, or reestablish, a relationship, with your advertiser, a coworker or a friend.
As you approach your advertiser, a coworker or a friend in a negotiating mode, consider, if you will, the following …
- Be Prepared. Prior to meeting with your client, coworker or a friend make every attempt possible in a timely fashion to learn all you can regarding the current situation and any prior contributing factors. Think through your options, objectives and goals in relation to the current circumstances. What would you like to do? What can you do? Initially begin to prioritize some of your options.
- Set the Parameters. At the outset, work to establish open and honest communication between all the involved parties, strive to develop trust, and remember that in order to gather information you need to LISTEN.Don’t tell …..rather, ask questions. Be sure that individuals you are negotiating with are able and willing to make any necessary decisions.
- Don’t Delay. Procrastinating or putting off the negotiations ’til tomorrow may not be in ALL of the parties best interest. Then again, allowing all parties time to let the emotions subside may, indeed, be of benefit. The key is to communicate in a timely fashion, set a resolution timetable, andbe faithful to it.
- Take the initiative. Be empathetic. Demonstrate, to ALL individuals involved, that you andyour newspaper have a course of action in place to meet and resolve some, if not all, of the parties’ key issues. Be willing to acknowledge an error, but don’t necessarily apologize, and be prepared to articulate what steps you will take to prevent its reoccurrence.
- Go or No Go. At what point will you feel it necessary to stop the negotiations or bring in additional support or decision makers? If this situation develops, what would be your next step and will it jeopardize not only the current situation but your future relationship with this advertiser, coworker or a friend?
- Walk Softly. Don’t be concerned with how fast you are moving toward a compromise, rather be sure you are headed in the right direction. Small compromises along the way may build to an acceptable overall solution.
- Thank You. Express your appreciation to the advertiser, coworker or a friend for bringing this, and possibly other (or past) situations to your attention.
- Call Back. After an agreement has been reached, touch bases with your advertiser, coworker or a friend to see if their expectations or understandings were met, continue to reinforce your resolution and the value you (and your newspaper) place on the relationship with that advertiser, coworker or a friend?
- Reestablish Your Relationship and Marketing Partnership. Working through a successful compromise and establishing common goals now will help you reestablish and strengthen a future long term relationship and partnership.
Last but not least, remember, again, that in negotiating, your objective is not to win or lose, at the expense of the other. Simply put, it’s the simple art of working with another to reach an agreement, a compromise, a first step forward. Good luck!
© Murray & Nau, Inc.
Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area based publishing consultant and sales and management trainer. He has been a speaker for and conducted advertising, marketing, management and sales training workshops with newspapers, niche publishers, publishing groups and press associations, throughout North America.