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Negotiating with Stakeholders – Session 2 Q&A

Merrill Datasite | February 27, 2015

On Wednesday we completed the second session in our webinar series “Negotiating with Stakeholders: Turning a potential ‘no’ into a definite ‘yes’. As with the last session Jeannette Nyden has taken the time to answer/respond to questions that came up during the webinar. They are all listed below. In case you missed the webinar, a replay is available.

Q: My stakeholder’s are all about cost – what’s the cost. I don’t think that there is a frame other than cost for them.

Jeanette:  This is very common. We are in a very cost conscious times. And, people do not have all the tools they need to be able to negotiate value.

They are in the Loss/Gain frame – what I am going to gain and what will they lose. This frame can create a tug-of-war atmosphere about the “need” for this vendor, or service, the “cost” of something, and a lot of “what we should do is...” which are all stalling tactics. I suggest staying away from Loss/Gain frame and look for a secondary frame. You might choose the Outcome instead and see if that works better than Loss/Gain.

Once you have your outcome frame, you are in a position to negotiate value. There are 4 types of value that are not tied to the cost of your product. You have to demonstrate in a mathematical formula that value to the customer. The value is calculated vis-à-vis the benefit to the end user. How does your product decrease their costs, decrease their risks, increase their opportunities or increase the benefits of their output?

My book Getting to We has a whole chapter (chapter 8) dedicated to this topic, and the third webinar session on April 1st will also address this topic in detail.

Q: What if the stakeholder won’t talk to you about his concerns?

Jeanette: This is also very common. People are very busy and may not understand the importance of meeting with you. So, get creative. Ask someone to lunch to talk through an issue. On a particularly large deal of mine, the “yes person” moved to another company in the middle of the process. The deal team and I knew nothing about his replacement. I learned a lot over one dinner and one lunch with two different people who had worked with the replacement in a different position. We used what we learned to complete our stakeholder analysis, and started to understand his frame of reference (process, rules and “dotting the I’s”) and his underlying concerns about increasing scope without increasing the spend.

Q: How do you take their frame and their concerns and put it into a presentation deck?

Jeanette: Once you have enough information about the stakeholder’s underlying concerns and your frame, you literally weave their concerns into your argument. You “loop back” in your presentation to the concern or objection and demonstrate you’ve addressed the concern of objection in your presentation deck or executive summary.

For example, in the case study the CTO wanted to compare what Oracle could provide versus what Merrill DataSite could do. I suggested putting the information in tables that compared (honestly) the pro’s and con’s of each solution. The more visual and explicit you can make it the better. You really do have to tell people “I heard you and I am here to address your challenge or concern.” Anything less leaves you vulnerable to the status quo “no”.

Stay tuned for an offering to sign up for the third, and final, session in this webinar series. We will help you with the final step in the process – negotiating value, not just bickering about price and cost. You will take your analysis from the first session, your frame and message from the second session and negotiate the value to your stakeholders.

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