Negotiation Skills

Business Relationship Management

Baxter Thompson Ltd, Jon Baxter

This post is an aide-memoire for Business Relationship Managers to help identify the key elements in negotiation with Business stakeholders . It is part of a series of posts on how to influence others. 

There are four considerations when negotiating:


Maintaining the relationship and the dialogue is the first priority. This means making allowances for emotions (both yours and theirs) mis-perceptions, mis-communication, and different methods of expression. Discuss the other parties values and perceptions. Acknowledge their concerns, agenda, wants and fears. This allows the participants to distinguish the personal emotions from the facts of the problem.


Typically a negotiation starts with a position, say the price of a car and what the parties are prepared to buy and sell for. The underlying interests are what motivate the negotiation. To raise understanding and awareness of this, ask the questions “What’s in it for me?”, “What’s in it for them?”; and disclose the answers with the other party. This can help identify common areas of interest, what’s valuable and what can be conceded. This can also help clarify the problem to solve.


Ideally the goal is to find a “win-win” scenario. Identifying the problem to solve helps focus a joint collaborative effort. This means addressing the root issue by separating causes and symptoms. Then, discussing the root issues and identifying the “blockers” around those issues, which means a list of scenarios can be generated. These scenarios can outline possible agreements, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Focusing on those scenarios that have stronger common interest are likely to provide a win-win.

Objective Criteria

Examples of objective criteria are market value, costs, specifications etc. The negotiation will be quicker if the criteria are agreed upon in advance. To be objective, understanding how say, the costs are built up, or agreeing what the process is to arrive at certain valuations. The key is to assess the possible agreements against the criteria. Setting objective criteria that can be independently verified allows clarity, fairness and builds trust. 

The Negotiation Process

There are five process steps to get to a negotiated outcome:

  1. Gather information – about the four considerations above
  2. Agree the problem – an agreed problem statement based on meeting the interests (2) above 
  3. Brainstorm possible options – All ideas are acceptable
  4. Identify the Best Alternative to A Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)
  5. Negotiate a solution – Select those ideas that agree to the criteria and agree the steps to arrive at the solution that solves the problem.

Recommended reading:  “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and Wiliam Ury.

How Baxter Thompson Associates can help

We help IT understand the opportunity with business partners through our Reconnaissance for IT framework and can help implement a business relationship management capability to ensure that the Value in IT is delivered. We also provide training - the BRMP(R) and the CBRM(R) courses in addition to coaching and Interim Management.


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