Top 6 techniques to negotiate like a pro as a Product Manager

“Hey, I really need to add this critical feature to the upcoming release. I have already kickstarted the marketing around the same”, says the head of marketing.

As a PM, you must have come across such a situation a number of times. A powerful senior stakeholder pushing you to add features to your already struggling release.

In such situations, you might find yourself negotiating — trying to resolve points of difference & resolving to reach an agreement.

Let’s have a quick glimpse at the most popular negotiation framework — the principled negotiation method.

6 techniques to negotiate seamlessly

  • Nurture a friendly behavior
    In order to build trust, winning over the negative emotions & ideas is a must. Once that stage is reached then, nurturing friendly & kind-hearted behavior can prove to be the winning recipe in ensuring the success of the negotiation.
  • Listen attentively
    Taking the initiative by offering empathic listening can depict that you care about the subject at hand & it also gives an opportunity to empathize with the stakeholder. It also facilitates you to understand the why behind the feature request in a more structured manner which will assist you in successful negotiation.
  • Focus on why rather than how or what
    As discussed above, emphasizing why & understanding the underlying needs of the stakeholder can prove to be a vital weapon in your negotiation journey. This also enables you to devise alternative answers that can attend to the respective needs of the stakeholder.
  • Invent options in a collaborative manner
    Open-ended questions are always a savor in such situations. This can unearth the dormant needs and put the focus on the objective rather than the feature request. Taking a step back and figuring out ways to achieve the business objective without impacting the immediate release is an art that you need to master with the help of the stakeholder.
  • Aim for conclusion
    It’s always advised to document each and every stage of the discussion with the stakeholder. In addition to that, capturing the stakeholders’ emotions and feelings with the agreed solution can help you to further mitigate any pending queries or doubts. Always overcommunicate and apprise the rest of the stakeholders about the agreed solution so that impacted parties can share their inputs if needed.
  • Treat negotiation as an exception, not the regular practice
    In this peculiar scenario, you made an attempt to negotiate and achieve the product objectives. However, it’s an exceptional scenario, and not all scenarios warrant negotiation so it is always advised to understand the impact and accordingly decide so that you don’t set a wrong precedent and earn a negative reputation for yourself. Be assertive yet polite in communicating your release objectives and refuse such requests if it’s a repeated trend.

The above-mentioned techniques capture the insight that negotiation is not about winning an argument or treating it as a battle, nor is it about satisfying your ego. On the contrary, it requires the keenness to attentively listen to your stakeholders, demystify their viewpoint & needs through a trust-building approach.

Thanks for reading! If you’ve got ideas to contribute to this conversation please comment. If you like what you read and want to see more, clap me some love! Follow here, or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter

Do check out exclusive Product Management resources 👇

Product Manager @AngelOne, ex-@Flipkart, @Cleartrip. Interests: Product, Technology, Strategy, Startups, Fintech & E-commerce!