4 Steps to Make Your Negotiations Successful

Day three of FEI’s Financial Leadership Summit explored the negotiation skills, metrics, and LinkedIn tips of the future.

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In a decentralized world, there is power in meeting people where they are. Day three of FEI’s Financial Leadership Summit reminded me how often finance executives are being asked to make organization-altering decisions. Somehow, the pandemic taught us that we are far more capable of change than we may have believed, and it rapidly shifted a finance leader’s focus from reporting and long(er)-term planning to a monthly or quarterly forecasting cadence. Underpinning this transformation is our need to gather more data from new internal and external sources. Inherent in this is frequent and transparent communication and the quality of our relationships with new, diverse stakeholders.

Our day started with Heather Cole, from Lodestar Solutions, Inc., and her session, Leading Your Organization to Thrive Depends on Your Negotiation Skills. Heather is an executive coach, lawyer, and member of FEI’s board of directors. I love how Heather uses personal stories to cement attendee learning. Her knowledge of real estate is incredible. She talked us through how children are great curiosity role models and that we’d be wise to release any fear we have of negotiating. She taught us how to reframe questions to seek “yes” answers that keep dialogue flowing. She shared four steps to make your negotiations successful - discovery, your needs, the other party’s needs, and minding the gap. Heather also surveyed the audience about their negotiation style and how to convert our preferences into the right win-win compromise. Key to mutually beneficial negotiations is asking the right questions and uncovering hidden details and risk. One of the best ways to build negotiation confidence is to learn peer-to-peer by posting questions on FEI Connect and engaging others who have experienced what you’re about to.

Gary Ennis, Senior Finance Director with Microsoft, shared incredible insights about how to create an engaging corporate culture built upon metrics that matter. He shared that the best data cultures include a single, master data source and platform, tried and true analytical frameworks that align all team members, and storytelling that evokes the right emotions and is delivered in a way that makes for easy, local self service. This is the essence of meeting others where they are. Gary dove deep into how Microsoft changed their strategy by getting clear on how to best support their employees’ cognitive load. They began delivering key finance insights with simple, clear visuals that were highly relevant and relatable to each of the 30,000 employee personas. He offered examples of how Microsoft used the Minto Pyramid to connect to employee emotions and share why a metric was so important to them individually. Because of their focus on decentralizing and personalizing messaging, they’ve seen a remarkable increase in profitability and share price. 

Our third session, Human-Centric Digital Transformation for Finance Leaders, was led by Sage Intacct’s dynamic duo of Tina Wang and Rauli Garcia. They reminded our attendees that it is possible to keep people and technology in mind equally when choosing how you’ll integrate new software and AI into your finance processes. It is possible to elevate the work of humans by automating laborious, repetitive processes and shifting their focus to strategy and navigating unexpected change. Tina offered a handful of client examples that showed how they’re now in the business of anticipating change and, in some cases, predicting the future. In a world of seemingly indefinite uncertainty, openly communicating the road map can improve employee engagement, productivity, and retention. Being human centric also gives us opportunities to chuckle as Rauli did when his lawn maintenance service unexpectedly started cleaning his yard mid presentation.

Our final session was led by Tracey Ferguson Knight from High Radius. Tracey walked us through the how and why of accurate cash forecasting. Her team’s research uncovered that at the onset of pandemic, many companies held onto cash. As time passed and they felt safer, they’ve leveraged lessons learned and many now feel safe to start internal projects. She led us step-by-step through human calculations of average days payables and compared that to AI’s capabilities to gather more data and deliver accurate forecasts faster. Tracey shared three important steps: getting data straight from the source, utilizing the right model per category, and creating flexibility for human intervention and manual adjustment for one-off events. AI can be the accuracy enabler when automating, forecasting, and increasing the pace of decision making.

Thank you to FEI Dallas for hosting Terry Sullivan and his live review of Financial Leadership Summit attendee LinkedIn profiles. Terry mixed a brilliant sense of humor with wonderful insights such as: writing your LinkedIn summary in first person tone, choosing a LinkedIn banner graphic that tells a personal story, and including at least three descriptive accomplishment-based bullet points in each LinkedIn experience section. Thank you also to our friends at FloCast, OneStream, Sage Intacct, and IBM for opening the day with 15-minute interactive sessions and demos.

I’m feeling it and I’m guessing you are, too. Humanity is evolving. Our society is decentralizing. Your authenticity matters. We’ve only scratched the surface of human potential. The more people I interact with, the more I learn that being human is given, but keeping our humanity is a choice. Finance executives can no longer push people to where they want them to be. We must meet people where they are. Give them hope. Engage their talents. The outcome of this will be far more extraordinary than we can currently imagine.

Michael S. Seaver has served as emcee of the Financial Leadership Summit for the last four years. To learn more about his work as speaker, leadership consultant, and executive coach, visit www.michaelsseaver.com.