Success One Step @ a time #109. Negotiation strategies.

109.       Negotiations are about getting what you want by using the other side's constraints.

A simple concept I learned from a two day course on negotiations.

When I used to work at The Assist Group we often found ourselves in a position where we had a significant amount of information telling us that a hospital had over-billed our insurance clients. However, an audit report isn't usually enough to convince a hospital to knock say $250k off a $800k bill (or even $25k off of an $80k bill).

Simply put, we had to learn how to negotiate. So I went to a two day course and learned only one thing, and it happened essentially in the blink of an eye (all other blinks were wasted but this one alone was worth it). Always know your definition of success, then put it in the back of your mind, and just negotiate the other sides motivations and constraints.

That's it.

Here are a couple lessons to effectively use the concept. In the above scenario I was usually dealing with nurses, who were used to a specific set of rules that didn't apply to what I was doing. My first definition of success is to get them to take my audit seriously, the second is to get them to start taking items off the bill, the third is a global settlement.

There are a few things I know about my ‘opponent’ in the hospital billing office. First, they are usually nurses, who are great at being nurses but not great at 'hostile' negotiations. Tactic: Be nice, genuinely sincere, and firm.

Second, everyone is somehow beholden to the end of the month, quarter, and fiscal year.  I closed more cases the last week of the year (95% of fiscal years end Dec. 31 or Jun. 30) than in any other entire month of the year.

Third, everyone has pressures that are dictating more actions and emotions than the dollars and cents. In this case there was usually a boss, with an incentive if money is received quickly. If speed is the overarching goal of the other side, make that easy for them. You can get me to go away quickly if you agree to….XYZ. Using their constraints against them.

For those of you who read my other blogs and my “success one Step @ a time” page see quotes 3-5. Negotiating the other side's constraints is just another derivative of “always know your audience.”