Preparation for Negotiation in Virtual Environment: Get Ready to Close the Deal
Negotiations are an essential part of contract lifecycle management and were mostly done in person until technology revolutionized this sector. With the introduction of virtual negotiations, it became easier for organizations to arrange meetings with clients on the other side of the world without breaking the bank. While the advantages are undeniable, online negotiations accompanied a few challenges, too, especially for employees who were habitual of negotiating physically. However, this can be overcome easily by following a few robust strategies while doing preparation for negotiation, which we will soon discuss in this article.
How Has the Shift to Virtual Environments Changed Negotiation Dynamics?
The shift of negotiations from a physical to a virtual environment has drastically changed the dynamics of the entire process, which can be understood by the following factors.
Dependency on technology – Virtual negotiations have made businesses more dependent on technology, as it’s impossible to negotiate without a stable network and proper equipment. Technical faults like a sudden loss of audio or video due to a poor network can disturb the flow of negotiations, leaving everyone frustrated.
Lack of rapport building – During face-to-face negotiations, members from both parties can build strong, flourishing social bonds. This is impossible while negotiating virtually as you can visualize less of the counterparts and their environment.
Limited non-verbal cues – In virtual negotiations, there are more chances of miscommunication due to a lack of eye contact, facial expressions, and body posture. Meanwhile, the presence of these elements in face-to-face negotiations can facilitate better understanding between both parties, bringing out satisfactory outcomes.
Importance of Preparing For Negotiations in Virtual Settings
Since virtual negotiations are a modern-world thing, organizations may face challenges while training their employees accordingly. Moreover, the road to closing successful deals in a virtual environment might come with obstacles like technical disruptions, lack of non-verbal cues, and a sense of distrust between the parties.
Considering that, you must have now realized why is preparation so important for negotiators. Only proper prior arrangements would make it possible to close a favorable deal for both parties.
Preparation for Negotiation in a Virtual Environment
Here are some tips in case you are wondering how to prepare for a negotiation:
1. Understand the Virtual Environment
The first step is to get familiar with how the virtual environment works, and this applies to every team member, be it a negotiator, translator, or IT expert. This can be done successfully by understanding how virtual negotiations differ from in-person negotiations.
For example, physical negotiations are arranged in an office room with no prior set-up requirements. Contrarily, virtual negotiations demand installing a proper system comprising high-quality internet, mics, speakers, and screens.
Similarly, what happens during face-to-face negotiation remains between the members present inside the meeting room. Meanwhile, online negotiations aren’t as secure due to cybersecurity issues.
Despite these concerns, you can excel at negotiating virtually by following a few simple strategies and virtual communication channels, such as CLM tools, email, video conferencing, etc.
Some considerations that may help you while doing preparation for negotiation are as follows:
● Use only high-quality equipment like webcams, mics, screens, etc., to avoid any unwanted disruption. Moreover, it’s your IT expert’s responsibility to check the functionality of each device before the meeting starts.
● Ensure that only important files are open on the central screen. Failing to implement this might give out an unprofessional impression to the other party, decreasing your chances of building a solid rapport.
● Try to opt for a bigger screen while negotiating via video conferencing. This will let you see the other party’s negotiators and evaluate their body language and non-verbal cues better.
● Never start the video meeting until each party is connected properly. Although it would take some time, implementing this strategy can ensure a smooth flow of negotiations.
● You can also leverage CLM tools for centralizing the exchange of redlined documents. Their features, like version control, help track the entire negotiation procedure comprehensively.
2. Prepare Yourself
Many negotiators find it easier to build rapport when dealing with someone in person. However, with some preparation, even virtual negotiations can be as effective in developing trust as physical interactions.
For that, it’s advisable not to jump directly into the business talks. Instead, you can start with something light-hearted to convey a positive emotion. Even implementing strategies like active listening, showing empathy, finding common ground, and being transparent in communication can be helpful in the course.
In addition to this, you must also thoroughly research the other party’s negotiation history while planning and preparing for negotiation to understand their priorities. Here are some key factors to look for about your negotiation partner:
● Industrial position
● Individuals involved in the process
● Financial situations like revenue and profitability
● Cultural background for better insights into their negotiation style and techniques
● Feedback and reviews from organizations who previously negotiated with the party
3. Prepare your Team
Another important factor to consider while deciding how to prepare for contract negotiation is to ensure the solid preparation of your team. Certainly, a company’s virtual negotiations are handled by a team instead of only negotiators. The members may include translators, IT experts, analyzers, support staff, etc., and they must be on the same page for smooth negotiations.
Moreover, the leader will be responsible for assigning roles to each negotiator who’s to be part of videoconferencing. It can be done by organizing a short meeting before negotiations in which everyone will be provided a brief on their respective tasks.
This is when it can be decided who will start the meeting, demonstrate the proposal, answer queries of the counterparts, and sum up the further steps. Through this, it’s easier to keep everyone on track as each team member will know their responsibilities beforehand.
Here are some more strategies that may help:
● If the members are working remotely, you must have a proper intra-communication network for sharing private messages within the team. A group on WhatsApp or any other messaging app can help implement this technique perfectly.
● Ensure that all members use a centralized system for smooth audio transmission.
● Also, create a plan for responding to unpredictable questions from the other party during the meeting.
4. Develop your Negotiation Strategy
Negotiating without a robust strategy in place will definitely lead to making decisions you might regret later. Hence, you must first set clear goals and priorities, which will also clarify things that can be compromised to reach a mutual decision.
Other than that, you need to understand your limits too, which would be your walk-away point. This means you should not accept any offer that goes beyond the boundaries you have set.
Similarly, knowing the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or BATNA also matters. If other interested parties are willing to offer a better deal, you can negotiate slightly more to get your desired outcomes from the client.
However, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t be practical when negotiating with different partners since every party has unique communication styles, negotiation tactics, and needs. Hence, you must tailor your strategies depending on the specific vendor on another side of the screen.
5. Manage the Negotiation Process
Having a well-planned agenda agreed upon by all the parties is an integral part of negotiation management that ensures productive outcomes. This helps anticipate the topics to be discussed in the meeting so everyone is on the same page.
Moreover, you can also allocate a specific period for each subject while prioritizing them in a logical order. For example, raise the technical issues before commercial, financial, and legal ones. Similarly, the negotiator’s tone also holds significant importance in closing a favorable deal. It should be professional, on-point, and clear throughout the meeting.
In addition, the negotiator should possess conflict-resolving capabilities if the opposing party is sticking too firmly with their demands. Here are some techniques that may help:
● Look for a solution that benefits both sides
● Be clear in your communications
● Make efforts to comprehend the other party’s concerns and perspective
● Recognize and address conflicts-producing triggers
You should never underestimate the power of preparation for negotiation, as it’s crucial to close the deal while protecting your interests. It becomes even more important in virtual environments due to communication barriers and technical difficulties.
With proper planning, you can better understand your goals, priorities, and limitations to align them with that of the other party and close the deal at a point that both agree upon.