Successful Negotiation Skills Training Starts with a Well-orchestrated Plan

Deliver lasting impact by focusing on return on investment - and return on expectations


To help produce the greatest impact to their business, the group of executives devoted two years to bringing their top 380 people across the supply and demand chain through a series of courses and live deal applications, and to building a sustainable negotiation process. Three years later, this company has planned its next level of strategic negotiations. Its staff are running their negotiations much more smoothly and achieving the intended results and more. But without involving the top of the organization in the initial step, this would not have been possible.

Identify Measurable Areas of Impact

In another strategy to maximize the impact, the company, over a two-year period, identified their desired outcomes — in business results and in behaviors — and conveyed them to the participants. So as part of their senior-level negotiation skills course, they identified business and behavioral implications of this undertaking. We sat down with the chief operating officer and his senior director and laid out an implementation plan and a measurement plan. They decided to invest $830,000 and wanted a plan to measure the impact on the organization. This measurement was their total cost of ownership, so they weighed the investment in the training and all associated costs.

The executives set out two measurements: ROI and ROE. Business results to be attained would directly relate to the change in approach and the application of skills. First, they identified the largest of the deals to follow and measured the deals across the entire organization. And they also wanted to measure the effective use of the negotiation planning tool they had worked on with teams during the courses. All these planning tools were embedded in their risk review process around all major deals, with the expectation that each category or team would present them before getting the necessary funding and authorizations.

Together we created a plan to sustain these changes in behaviors and process. We assigned an executive champion to communicate the importance of the initiative and a business partner to implement the details. Over the next year, the company sent its deal teams into courses together. These teams were brought together in order to create a single language and behavioral process across the teams in their negotiations. The executives who initially came through the course opened each of the subsequent courses and supported the initiatives through constant communication. As these deal teams began to engage with customers, vendors and each other, their behaviors were fully supported by the executives.

Measurable ROI and ROE

One of the company's executives, a division president, shared his success after completing the courses. He was working with his team in a deal with a targeted fee of $72 million for the company's services. But the buyer was pressuring them to deliver the same services for just $60 million. They used tools from the courses and their expected outcomes to guide their behaviors.

Because of their process evaluation, preparation and skills application to this engagement, the division president and his team closed the deal for $72 million, attaining the targeted profits and delivering the services far earlier than anticipated. They attributed the additional $12 million on this deal to their planning and application of skills taught across the organization. This positive outcome was communicated back to the employees and the board and continues to be used as a benchmark for future deals.

In summary, when you teach negotiation across your company, develop a well-orchestrated plan for achieving ROI and ROE. Then stick to that plan and build it into your organizational processes and behaviors. The result should be a significant and lasting impact on your business.

About the Author: Marty Finkle, CPT, is CEO of Parsippany, N.J.-based Scotwork (NA) Inc., the North American division of Scotwork, the world's largest independent provider of negotiation skills training and consulting. For more information, contact usa@scotwork.com.

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