Although it is often the most important single aspect to assuring a successful event, quality negotiating is often an overlooked and neglected art. Professional negotiators understand that negotiations require a combination of integrity, knowledge, homework, priorities, preparation and planning, and must be followed by follow through. In my well over thirty years of involvement in hundreds of events representing many millions of dollars, I have observed how anything other than quality negotiating is often the death – blow to having a successful event. Far too many times, individuals who have limited experience and even less expertise convince others that they are capable of negotiations, and almost invariably, that results in something being overlooked, misaddressed, or somewhat disastrous to the organization.
1. Successful negotiations begin with absolute integrity, combined with true knowledge, and carefully understood and considered priorities. Before negotiations should ever begin, a negotiator must truly understand what an organization both needs and wants, what the purpose of the event is, and what the highest priorities are. Priorities should be rated from absolutely required, to helpful, to wanted, to wished for, to would be nice to have. Negotiators must begin with a carefully prepared and realistic budget, so that the maximum can be achieved within a certain set of restraints. The chief negotiator must not only have experience, but must be master of negotiating, using his meaningful experience alongside numerous other characteristics, to be a true professional. Many untrained and/ or unprepared negotiators try to ask for the world, and make unreasonable demands, while also claiming to be able to deliver more than is realistic. This is far different than being merely unrealistic, but rather comes close to lying, which in the end result, creates disharmony and distrust when the event eventually occurs. A negotiator with integrity maintains a meaningful relationship, and often can achieve extremely important modifications, changes, tweaks, or adaptations when the event nears.
2. True professional negotiators also realize that they must do considerable homework, to enhance their negotiating advantages/ strengths and disadvantage/ weaknesses, as well as those aspects as it relates to their “opposition’s” bargaining power and strengths (or weaknesses). Once this is done, the most effective negotiations come about because a negotiator understands how to be creative, and to help the venue, thus reducing the venue’s costs. When a negotiator can find savings, he is able to convince someone to share that savings, thus creating a win – win situation. Negotiating takes painstaking, careful, fastidious planning and attention to detail. Only when the individual in charge of this process is well versed on all aspects of this process, and uses all of them, will an organization end up with the optimum results.
Don’t ignore the details. It is the savings in minor areas that often make the major things possible and even grander!