A team of negotiators can often bring a broader range of knowledge to the negotiating process than individuals can, and a team is often more creative.
When properly organized, negotiating teams are less likely to overlook important details, plan better, and think more broadly. Research indicates that negotiating teams set higher targets than individuals—but when faced with large risks, a team is more cautious. When selling an agreement internally to the rest of the organization, a team presentation is likely to be more persuasive than an individual’s.
Some important points about negotiating teams:
1. A negotiating team needs a skilled leader who can plan effectively, keep disagreements inside the team, and manage the flow of information to and from the team.
2. Don’t go into a negotiation with a second-rate team — too much is at stake to use mediocre assistance. A team leader must select people whom he or she respects. It is more important to have “experts” at your side than “nice guys.”
3. Never go into an important negotiation without “inoculating” your negotiating team. No plan is complete without considering how you will defend yourself against arguments. Use the devil’s-advocate approach to run through the other party’s positions beforehand. This approach is rarely used, so discipline yourself to do it. You’ll be glad you did!
4. Develop rules among your own people on how questions will be fielded. Sometimes it is best to have all questions directed only to the chief negotiator to give others time to answer.
5. Recess and caucus frequently.
6. Have a “dancer” on your team. A dancer is a person who can say much about very little.
7. Consider having one person designated as an “observer;” their role is to record what is happening both verbally and non-verbally. Use this information when you caucus.