Negotiating What You Want

A Wall Street vet explains what it takes to close the deal

“In a fast-paced, high-stakes, and high-risk environment, negotiation is everything and everything is negotiable,” says Financial Institutions’ Vice President of Global Treasury Services Clark K. Woods, who oversees payment, collection, trade finance, investment management, and liquidity solutions for Financial Institutions within the Northeast quadrant of United States.

Effective negotiating, however, requires a full understanding of intended goals and a deliberate approach in attempting to reach them, since any outcome—particularly in finance—could possibly affect products, services, and profit margins.

To bolster his own negotiating acumen, Woods enrolled in Notre Dame’s Executive Education program in the summer of 2007. He reports that the instruction provided him with a solid understanding of competitive interactions, a framework for structuring the bargaining process, and strategies for mitigating resistance and managing obscuring factors.

The University offers professionals an Executive Certificate in Negotiations upon completing a 24-week, three-course online program. The courses include Negotiation Skills, Advanced Negotiations, and Strategies for Conflict Management. Each individual, eight-week module incorporates expert lectures, simulation exercises, and relevant case study analysis.

Since completing his studies, Woods employs the following tactics for achieving successful business exchanges:

Be prepared. Understand each party’s goals.  Discuss the intent of deliberations. Know pre-existing limitations and constraints. Determine beforehand your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA); decide what will be your fall-back plan if current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached.

Stay focused. Keep the “big picture” in sight. Concentrate on achieving shared goals and less on the specific methods necessary to reach them.  Distinguish between petty differences and potential deal breakers. Refrain from asking for everything upfront; settle one issue at a time.

Think win-win. Seek to move both parties away from polarized positions. Identify and capitalize on opportunities for mutual gain and benefit. Insist on objective criteria for evaluating the final deal.

Lose the ego. Try to eliminate personal biases. Brush off offenses and refuse to take anything personally. Separate people from the problem. Ultimatums and tantrums undermine closing the deal.
“As a result of this training I am better adept at turning initial differences into mutual gains that improve the financial terms and conditions for Financial Institutions, its investors, and customers,” offers Woods. For more information about the university’s executive education programs, contact Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business at www.notredameonline.com.

This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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