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Learn How To Negotiate Like A Fortune 500 CEO Using 4 Proven Frameworks (PART 2)

Brandon Fluharty |

Brandon Fluharty |


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⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️

We will pick up where we left off last week, which is to dive deep into another powerful negotiation framework. This week we’ll focus on The Seven Elements Negotiation Framework developed by Professor Roger Fisher and his colleagues at the Harvard Negotiation Project. Leveling up your negotiation skills will be a tool you can leverage effectively in business and life.

Let’s go!

Read time: <7 minutes

If you missed part 1, read it here.


When “Just Get It Done” Is Not Enough

It’s end of quarter, and we’ve all experienced what the outcome of a sloppy negotiation looks like…

– Unnecessary price discounts

– Giving away valuable professional services

– Contracts that don’t align with a client’s strategy

This ultimately leads to unsatisfied clients and a frustrated account team when it comes time to expand the opportunity or renew the deal.

Setting the proper stage and outcomes of a deal early on is the lifeblood of any organization, and that starts with intelligent negotiation. That’s why I’m dedicating four of my weekly newsletters to this highly important skill (because who else is taking the time to break down how to negotiate like a Fortune 500 CEO for you?).

Last week we dove deep into Principled Negotiation which is excellent for resolving conflicts.

Today, we’ll deconstruct The Seven Elements Negotiation Framework in which Principled Negotiation is derived. Understanding and applying both of these frameworks will give you a key competitive advantage as you approach negotiating your complex deals.

Always remember:

“Negotiation is about creativity, not compromise.” – Jeff Weiss, Harvard Business Review

And as a reminder, in the last edition of the series (two weeks from now), I’ll share a free gift that will summarize each negotiation framework so you can use it as a cheatsheet on all of your deals.


Negotiation Framework #2: Seven Elements of Negotiation

The Seven Elements Framework, in a nutshell, is that every negotiation can be broken down into seven distinguishable yet interconnected elements:

→ Satisfies everyone’s core interests (both sides)

→ Is the best of many options

→ Meets legitimate, fair criteria

→ Is better than the alternatives

→ Is comprised of clear, realistic commitments

→ Is the result of effective communication

→ Helps build the kind of relationship you want

All seven elements are present in every negotiation, regardless of the style or approach adopted by the negotiators. It’s important to note that the framework is not a sequential set of procedures, but rather a set of elements to consider when preparing for and undergoing a negotiation.

The framework is like a prism. It’s a conceptual tool that helps you see the components of negotiation more clearly, just as a glass prism breaks up light into its constituent colors. Like the colors of light, the elements are always there in negotiation, but they are often mixed up together.

The Seven Element framework helps you separate them out and bring each one into focus.

Let’s unpack each one:

1. Interests

As we learned last week, they key is to focus on their interests, not their positions.

What are their underlying needs, aims, fears, and concerns that shape what they want?

Aim for an outcome that satisfies the full range of interests for both sides, as this will go a long way toward ensuring that your agreement sticks.

2. Options

These are the solutions you generate that can meet your prospect or client’s interests.

Ideally, during effective communication, you’ll co-develop several options to discuss during negotiation.

Your final agreement should be the best of those many options.

Remember: A quality negotiation leaves the client feeling like you created real value. If the outcome feels like it was the only possible solution, it’s probably not a good one.

3. Criteria

In research conducted with close to 1,000 negotiators all over the world, Vantage Partners found that “what the vast majority of people wanted most from a negotiation was to leave feeling that they were fairly treated and that they could defend the outcome to stakeholders and critics. Most reported this as more important than thinking they got a great deal.”

This is why using objective criteria is important to guide your negotiations and assess fairness.

Aim for an agreement that would be considered fair by those in the room and outside of it.

4. Alternatives

Sometimes this is called “BATNA” – the best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

In essence, this is the alternative to something the client has to do to fulfill their interests if they couldn’t come to an agreement with your company. This could be building the solution in house. It could be sustaining the status quo. It could be choosing another vendor.

Define what the best alternative is and help the client understand what it would truly cost them (in time, quality, resources, and money).

Any outcome you agree to needs to be better than what they would do if they walked away from the negotiating table with you.

5. Commitments

Each side needs to make commitments to do or not do certain things, to do them a certain way, and by a certain time.

These promises – to hire a service, pay a fee, deliver a product, provide resources – need to be operational, sufficiently detailed, and realistic. They also need to be made by someone with the correct authority and with the approval of those that have to deliver on them.

After all, structuring unrealistic agreements is a waste of time. It might feel good to get a deal done now after promising the world, but it does no one any favors (your reputation or your company’s bottom line) if it all unravels in a year.

For an agreement to be successful, it needs to be clear that each side hold up its end of the bargain.

6. Communication

A lot of sellers make the mistake of focusing only on the substance of the negotiation (interests, options, criteria, and so on).

However, how you communicate about that substance can make all the difference.

Crafting your communication in a narrative format, for instance, is a great way to deliver the substance in a way that sticks. It invites easy comprehension of the outcome and invites a clear and open dialogue to ensure the narrative is on point.

7. Relationship

It goes without saying that trust is the key currency that needs to be established here.

Relationship is both the starting and end point, because a strong relationship needs to be built in order to enter a negotiation where both parties enthusiastically want to succeed at getting the deal done, while you also want to leave the negotiation building the type of long-term relationship both sides want.

Ask yourself if you are negotiating with someone you will interact with a lot in the future or someone you will never see again. What is the cultural background of the person you may be negotiating with? What are their norms and expectations?

Ultimately, it comes down to establishing mutual respect, trust, and requires tons of collaboration.


Using All Seven Elements

Some of the elements have more to do with process (the “how” of negotiation), while others are more relevant to the substance (the “what”).

To achieve the best agreement possible, the goal is to satisfy the requirements of all seven elements.

Just as if you were testing the safety of a car, you wouldn’t skip on some of the checks on your checklist to satisfy every element and standard each car needs to meet. The same holds true on every negotiation you enter.

>> USE THIS HANDLY TOOL that was developed by Conflict Management, Inc. and revised by Vantage Partners to effectively prep for every negotiation you enter.


Summary (TL; DR)

Negotiation will not only serve you well in business, but in life.

I want to give proper space for this incredibly important skill, and as such, I am dedicating one newsletter for four weeks straight to the four most powerful negotiation frameworks used in business today (this was part two).

Today’s edition focused on The Seven Elements Framework. The elements are persistent in every negotiation you enter. Be sure to satisfy all seven to reach an ideal agreement:

Next week, I’ll dive deeply into Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA). See you then!


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