Negotiate Like a Pro(duct Manager) by Garry Prior

In this talk from #mtpengage Manchester, Garry Prior, Director of Product at THG Ingenuity, explores how negotiation is central to being a product manager, and looks into key areas to focus on during negotiations.

As product people we spend our working lives negotiating internally with colleagues and externally with customers and partners. Given this, you would expect us to be well versed in the art of negotiation, and for product management training to include this as a core module, but you’d be mistaken. For something so central to what we do, it’s a topic that can often be overlooked.

When negotiating, Garry recommends we focus on these areas:

Preparation

This is probably the most important stage of negotiation, but it’s the one we typically neglect the most. We all lead busy lives, running from meeting to meeting or conversation to conversation, and don’t often take the time to prepare correctly for negotiations.

As a minimum, when heading into the negotiation you should have a set of clear objectives in mind. What do you need to achieve? What do you need the team/person to do? Then, you should understand what’s essential in your ask, and what’s nice to have, and something that you make concessions or trade-offs on.

You then need to switch mindsets and put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask the same questions. What are their objectives? What’s non-negotiable, and where do their trade-offs likely lie?

By doing this, you can head into the conversation fully prepared and develop clear negotiation strategies.

Be Comfortable Arguing

Negotiation shouldn’t be confrontational or competitive, and arguing isn’t shouting, screaming, and pointing. Arguing can be defined as “to give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea, action, or theory, typically with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view”. We’re likely to challenge the assumptions we’ve made during preparation when we negotiate, and we can also rush negotiation because we’re uncomfortable with arguing. But we can make sub-optimal decisions when rushing and avoiding confrontation, and we may miss key insights that would help us in negotiation.

Open realistically and move modestlyGarry Prior

Proposals Move you Forward

Proposals are what move negotiations forward. Having prepared and argued your case, you now likely understand the objectives of the other side. You can see how they fit with your own objectives, and can now put forward a plan that helps meet all of the objectives. The golden words during proposals are “if” and “then”. “If” you were to do X, “then” I can do Y. Garry believes the key is in ensuring that your “If” statement is routed in action for the other side, not putting the onus on the action yourself.

Have a go at applying these principles during your next negotiation and see how you get on!

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