In our last post, we talked about the importance of carrying out international negotiations like a pro. We covered the first five lessons we have learned at Itransition: doing your homework, teaming up with insiders, being generous with personal meetings, inviting clients to your office and preparing a team of leaders to ace it at the talks.
After the initial stages of preparing for negotiations, you will have to dive right into the process and show your potential client you are 100% prepared to deliver the best products and services you possibly can. To do that, follow these steps to leave no room for error at the negotiations and make sure the client has no shadow of a doubt to choose your company:
When working to sign a contract with a large international eLearning provider, we discovered that sometimes it is impossible to cover 100% of the project scope, and one of the solutions is to find a partner and involve them in the project to cover those missing parts. Thinking ahead and developing a partner network regionally and in overlapping spheres of influence beforehand can become a winning point of negotiations and bring you closer to signing the contract. It also helps to involve partners in niche areas because you can rest assured they will carry out their duties expertly. Take time to divide responsibilities fairly and according to the strengths and competences of each party, and agree on shared duties. Include partners in requirements analysis and preparing a mutual commercial offer.
In order to succeed, your presentation has to be memorable, but for the right reasons. With our client, Transfer Pricing Associates, we made sure our presentation made a big impact. Keeping your speech short and to the point shows that you know what you are doing and that you value everyone’s time and money. The focus of your presentation should be the client’s interest and the content should be driven by what solutions you offer for the client’s problems. Make sure your partner has an active role in the presentation, be it with a short speech or a visual aid – the offer looks more credible because you have the back up of a powerful business player. Demonstrate your expertise by using product samples or short specifications of products. Visualization is sometimes more powerful than words so use a lot of visual aids, and if you are offering a service, make your portfolio shine or involve key players from the project, showcasing their personalities, resumes or examples of achievements. Potential clients shouldn’t leave without high quality promotional materials. To make your products and services more attractive, you may want to assist your client in decision making by including an analysis of ROI and value forecasts based on implementing the solutions your offer in a presentation. Don’t leave without receiving feedback to make sure both sides are on the same page, understand what the next steps are and have the permission to proceed with the project.
After the presentation, it is important to present a plan of action to the client. The plan should be a mutual guide of work during the whole duration of the project. This helps avoid leaving any loose ends or not meeting all the requirements in full. Receiving valuable feedback from your insider may help you find effective ways to push the project to its finish, cater to arising needs, research competition and ways to beat it, steps to take to secure an additional support agreement, and so on. Communication at the last stage is very important to monitor any changes in attitude or modifications to goals and requirements. In order not to lose deals, gather and analyze internal intelligence. Initial offers can be corrected in accordance with new circumstances with the help of budget cuts, reconsidering scope, optimizing support terms, and so on.
Make sure you’re not losing more money on the contract review than you can make on it. Analyze contracts as early as the RFP stage from every angle that matters to you, involving legal professionals, production leaders and sales people. Also, make it a priority to delegate a leader as the main decision maker from your team and know who the decision maker from the client is. Understanding which contract points are negotiable and which are fixed will help you avoid misunderstanding and running into legal issues further down the road. You have to carefully calculate not just profitability, but also consider contractual expenses before you sign the agreement to know exactly what the deal is worth.
After you sign the contract, it’s no time to relax. Working with Adidas, we knew that the first month is often a decisive time to make a strong connection that will result in long-term collaboration. You have to ensure you keep quality and quantity of communication high. You have to constantly check if the plan is being followed through and if all the points on the contract are met by monitoring feedback from clients. Make knowledge transfer to project performers as thorough as possible. All project members should know each other well and communicate efficiently to solve issues together. For best results, systematically monitor the degree of customer satisfaction and ask clients to fill out a questionnaire detailing their satisfaction on a variety of factors. Alter your work in the areas where improvement is necessary and make comparisons of performance at different stages of the project.
International negotiations require a great degree of patience, attention to details and an ability to understand a foreign culture as well as your own. What do you think about these tips to make international negotiations successful? Have I covered everything or do you have anything to add? Please leave your comments below and share what you learned about negotiating from your experience.