Have you ever forgotten to negotiate against the ‘hidden man‘, the person with whom the power resided that was not at the negotiation table? Instead, you negotiated against the person you thought was ‘in charge’ and discovered he wasn’t.
Negotiation Tip: Some people negotiate with multiple people on their team as a strategy. They send the first person in to ‘feel out’ the other negotiator. After the first negotiator has gained insight into the strategy of his opponent and worn him down, the more seasoned negotiator takes over.
The following information highlights how you can uncover the ‘hidden man’, test the authority of the other negotiator, and assess his power.
Find out early in the negotiation the level of authority the other negotiator has. That means knowing what he has the authority to ‘sign off’ on. Also, make sure you know with whom you’re negotiating. That means knowing all of the players that are involved. That could consist of those at the negotiation table and those that are not there, but have an interest in the outcome. The ‘real’ decision makers could be lurking in the background, unseen.
To test the authority of the other negotiator, use ‘what if’ scenarios to discern the amount of authority she has. Do so by floating proposals that should appear to be beneficial and appealing to her. Gauge her response. If she’s hesitant to seize an offer that she should be readily accepting, that could be an indication that she does not have the level of authority she professes to possess.
You can also ask her if she has the authority to close the deal. If she says yes, ask her under what conditions. Her response and the manner by which she responds will give you additional insight to the level of authority she has. Consider other tactics you can employ to test her authority to close a deal. Just keep in mind that a good negotiator will always imply she has to refer to a higher authority when it comes to positions that may not be overly advantageous to the outcome she seeks. Thus, weigh her responses with that thought in mind.
Power is perceptional. Thus, the degree of power someone has is the amount of power you give them. Be careful and cautious as to the degree of undue, unnecessary, or undeserved power you give to anyone in a negotiation. If in your mind, you give someone too much power in a negotiation, you create a halo effect of them (i.e. think of them as someone at a higher level than reality dictates). This could cause you to acquiesce to their demands, which means you’ll readily make concessions that may not be deserved. In addition, don’t be fooled by the opulence that someone my project. Negotiations are nothing more the mind games and the projection of opulence could be part of the set in which you’re negotiating.
Once, I negotiated against what I thought was the ‘known’. In reality, I was negotiating against the ‘unknown’. At the end of the negotiation, I lost. This may have happened to you in the past. If you use the guideline above, it never has to happen again… and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!