Who Should Negotiate Your Contracts?

PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Posted on: 07/02/19
Written by: PSMJ Resources, Inc.

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Whoever negotiates a contract for your architecture or engineering firm should be the one most familiar with the client, having become well acquainted through your marketing, client research, proposal, and presentation.

Your negotiator also should be:

  • Familiar with the marketing efforts to date;

  • Authorized to commit the firm;

  • Able quickly to analyze the financial impact;

  • Able to handle ambiguity well and keep 14 balls in the air; and

  • A natural salesperson who can motivate both sides toward closure.

Does this mean assembling a whole team of people? Not necessarily. The best negotiators can handle ambiguity well. They don't mind working to resolve many issues, and no single issue is resolved until all issues are.

It's dangerous for one person to conduct a negotiation. A second person can watch for reactions; think while you talk; interrupt if you're going off in the wrong direction; and provide perspective.

Two is the optimum number of people for most negotiations, with three being the maximum. Beyond that, the logistics of coordinating roles and inputs becomes burdensome for most project situations. Group negotiations are appropriate for large, complex projects. Ideally, the project manager will be a key member of the negotiating team.

One mistake you'll probably regret is turning over the negotiation to a team of professional negotiators. It's virtually impossible to inspire a “relationship” negotiation if the people on your team don't know the individuals on the other side, and are motivated in a single direction, such as financial, performance, or design.

 

 

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