A Negotiation Tip: What’s His or Her Own Motivation?

July 8, 2019

Here’s a great tool for your next negotiation with an entity, say with a hospital or even a healthcare system. Or with any business, for that matter.

It’s motivation. Motivation in the context of negotiation. No, not your motivation, but figuring out the other side’s motivation. But with a different twist, of course.

When you negotiate with an entity on the other side of a deal, of course you have to be concerned about, and do serious investigation into what that entity’s motivations, interests, and payoffs might be.

But also consider this: Because the other side is an entity, it’s always going to be represented in the negotiation by people. Let’s take some negotiation with a hospital as an example. The hospital will be represented by some executive charged with the outcome. Let’s say that it’s the CEO.

Think deeply about the CEO’s motivation in the negotiation, as opposed to the entity’s motivation. What is it?

For example, consider questions like the following: How does the CEO get paid? How does the CEO get evaluated for a promotion? When do evaluations occur? What other pressures is the CEO under?

Do you really understand those factors and what they can mean to you?

Over the course of hundreds of deals, I’ve seen many in which the hospital’s representative, the CEO in our example, took a position or agreed to a position opposed to the hospital’s best interest. You wonder why only for so long – then you realize that the CEO’s motivation wasn’t exactly the same as the hospital’s. For example, she was going to be judged on whether the deal closed, and therefore, a closed deal was better than the best deal, the best deal that would have taken longer to achieve.

Although you must, of course, research and evaluate what the business entity on the other side of the deal seeks in terms of success, it might be even more valuable to understand what success means for the executive representing it. In many cases, it’s entirely possible to deliver a complete win to the individual sitting across the table from you while delivering a complete win to your own organization in terms of the terms of the contract.

I’m not a big believer in the rote concept of “win-win” negotiation because it often results in you leaving too much on the table. But I’m all in favor of helping the other side’s representative “win” while advancing our business interests in the deal.

Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Mark F. Weiss

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