The subtle art of negotiation (2 of 2)

Last post I referred to Brad’s use of a “wonderful device” in his negotiations with clients. So what is this device? Put simply it is distance. By distance I mean another person which Brad needs to refer back to and check with before committing himself and his firm to anything.

By helping other partners provide services to a large client, Brad has created at least one other person within that account whom he can use as someone he needs to check with and consult before making any decisions when it comes to project scope or fees. Professional accountants (at the partner level in particular) often fall into the trap of saying yes on the spot or being caught by over-committing when a client puts pressure on them in a meeting. What Brad has done is to create distance by having another partner doing work in the same organisation to whom he can “defer” decisions. This is is how it works.

Let’s say, Brad has been asked by his client to make the fee in his proposal sharper and include some extra items at the lower price. Brad can then say something along the lines, “Mr/Mrs Client, thank you for asking the question. However, I need to discuss your request with my other colleague who is the lead partner for this account. I’ll come back to you with an informed response”

By having this other person to defer to, Brad has created sufficient distance and given himself more time to develop a informed, creative & innovative approach and not respond in the heat of the moment and give away too much.

I you’re a partner keep the above in mind when engaged in your next negotiation. It might just save you some time & money!

Until next time,

James E


The subtle art of negotiation (1 of 2)

Recently I caught up with an old university friend of mine who is now a senior partner at one of the big 4 accounting firms working in the areas of mergers & acquisitions. We had a great catch up over coffee & raisin toast. To protect the innocent lets call my friend Brad as in Brad Pitt. I’m sure he’d like that!

Brad made mention of very useful tactic when it came to working with large clients. Big accounting firms tend to have multiple relationships with their corporate clients with certain partners wanting to protect their “turf” and not wanting other partners to get in on the act. Its sad to say but unfortunately its true.

However, my mate Brad has come up a clever & innovative approach. He seeks out the other partners working within a particular organisation and helps them win more business with the client in their respective areas. By so doing he builds the relationships he has with other partners in the firm and fosters the reputation of being a team player. All good stuff! However, the real genius in Brad’s approach is the subtle creation of a wonderful device that is critical in any negotiation with existing clients or when chasing new business.

What is this so-called “wonderful device”?  Tune into the next post to find out.

Keep well,