Posted by: CS Shilpi Thapar
“You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.” –Anon
In last few months, I got an opportunity to act as go-to-negotiator for my clients for winning Joint Ventures/Consortium deals for them. My role in this assignment was not limited to drafting and finalizing legal joint ventures/shareholders agreements, related legal documents or incorporation of special purpose vehicle but extended to negotiate the terms of business deal on behalf of my client in his best interest. During the entire process of negotiation, I found that Deal Negotiations on behalf of clients is very important and rewarding area of practice for professionals like Lawyers, Company Secretaries, Chartered Accountants, Cost Accountants and other professionals provided one possesses excellent negotiation skills as it is result oriented area of practice. During the entire process, I read a wonderful book “Negotiation” by Anthony Jacks which helped me a lot. I thought of sharing my experience and views as go-to- negotiator for a client which was enriching experience for me:
- Negotiation is a strategic communication that involves either making deals or resolving conflicts.
- Negotiation is a vital business skill which is used in different contexts in business and organisational life i.e in union negotiation to corporate takeover, merger arrangements, joint ventures/ consortium and even in everyday situations.
- Professional acting as negotiator on its client behalf should possess interactive communication skills, legal and financial knowledge, writing and time management skills, should have proper body language, presentation and appearance. They should also possess knowledge in many other disciplines like behavioural economics, decision theory, game theory, social and cognitive psychology.
- Negotiation is mainly the process of bargaining that arranges and agrees the basis on which agreement will be concluded, the terms and conditions under which the deal be stuck.
- The techniques of negotiation are many and varied and its use must be tailored, to the individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
- Successful negotiation necessitates understanding exactly what negotiation is, why it is complex, and how exactly it works.
- The process of negotiation involves fair amount of give and take, the to and fro discussion and it cannot be rushed, pushed. Win-Win situation should be adopted and importance should be on seeking a common ground, rather than fighting for your way on everything. Aim should be agreement not stalemate.
- The foremost step for the professional proposed to act as negotiator on behalf of client is to take exhaustive engagement letter for the same from the client which specifies all the terms and conditions of acting as go-to-negotiator i.e boundaries of responsibilities, accountability, authority and your clear role in negotiation process. It should also be clear from the client : a. Who will be final coordinator or decision maker in this deal from their side with whom you will interact and consult on regular basis?b.Whether that Director/officer will be present in all negotiation meetings and follow-ups with you? It is always advisable to make your client attend all the negotiations meetings either personally or through telephone/video conferencing to avoid any confusion and for speedy proceedings. You have to be patient in dealing with your client emotions.
- Professional should look after the client case thoroughly, analyse it in terms of its features and benefits and what is the need of your client from this negotiation i.e to make more money, save time, efforts or hassles, be more secure, sort out problems, exploit opportunities, etc. So always be in constant discussion with your clients on these goals and issues.
- The important step is how to put the proposal over before the other party. It should be expressed in proper and clear language, style, argument, respecting other party point of view and each seeing things from their prospective.
- Always remember that knowledge and information is power in negotiation .There should be clarity of thoughts and experience in this process. You have to suggest your client to put a proposal that will put things right. Motive should not be arguments as arguments cannot be negotiated; only proposals can. Always make sure that your client provides you fair and factual information timely.
- Preparation is an essential preliminary to success. Proposal Preparation should be thorough. You must do thorough homework on each and every terms proposed. Negotiation process should be structured properly and should not spiral out of control. Control on language, emotions, body language is must. Your client’s win is dependent on your attitude. You should be focus all the time without becoming distracted, angry, frightened and without provoking other side to cut off negotiations and above that you should have excellent listening skills.
- Professional should be well prepared and done research on following points before sitting on negotiation table on behalf of client:
- The other party /people involved and their reputation
- Your own position
- Role and/or intentions do they have?
- Subjective or objective needs of other party
- What problems will they raise? What objections will they make?
- What are they aiming to achieve and how strong in their bargaining position?
- Can they decide alone and what must they consult about with some one else?
- The biggest challenge is in figuring out how to get what your client want in the negotiations- knowing that other party is also working towards the same outcome from their side too.
- Professional should be firm but at the same time informative and polite.
- Never agree any terms in haste. The bad deal can have long lasting implications.
- In case of cross border deal negotiations, we need to know and learn other party’s country/continent culture and traditions before we start talking to them on any terms and negotiation. It is must to have win –win deal.
So keep growing by retaining your professional standing and enhancing one’s reputation.