Emotion and the Art of Negotiation

Customer success and customer support are full of negotiations, so I read with interest an article titled Emotion and the Art of Negotiation in the December 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review.  Here’s a quick summary of the article and what it means for customer success professionals.

  • Emotion is a big part of any negotiation, as we well know, but it is often misunderstood, even ignored. Instead, pay attention to how you feel throughout a negotiation and use that self knowledge, along with what you can observe of the other parties’ emotions, to help get to a successful conclusion.
  • Before the negotiation, we often feel anxious and excited. Avoid expressing anxiety; instead, express forward-looking excitement, which can build rapport. (Try, “Let’s find a solution together” rather than “My hands are tied.”)
  • During the negotiation, we may feel angry. Be careful about expressing anger. While it may pay off short term, it harms the long-term relationship. Prepare answers to likely tough questions to help you stay calm during the negotiation. (I find that customer success professionals are often very good at anticipating what tough questions will come up!)
  • At the end of the negotiation, do not crow about outcomes that make you feel particular pleased, even triumphant. It is important that all parties feel they have “won”. Emphasize the value created for everyone.
  • Negotiate process before substance. How will the decision be made? Who will participate? This also helps you anticipate what kinds of questions will come up.
  • Normalize the process. discuss, in advance, typical barriers that your counterparts may not be aware of. For instance, make it clear that bug fixing is a multistep process that cannot be completed within the hour.
  • Control the frame so you can negotiate as equals. For instance, if the customer is complaining about price, don’t simply acquiesce that your services are expensive, but instead discuss value rather than price.

I find it very useful to carefully observe the customer(s) to understand what emotions they may be feeling, and calmly call out that emotion (to myself) so I can think of the best way to proceed that will feed the emotion, not just the rational mind — which is often hobbled if strong emotions reign.

Tell us about tough negotiations you participated in and how you made them work.

The FT Word – May 2016

The FT Word

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to the May 2016 edition of the FT Word.  Our topics for this month:

  • Our topics for this month:
    • Type B managers. Perhaps you are one!
    • Premium Support for SaaS: it’s not a contradiction in terms, not at all!
    • Join me at the TSW conference this week in San Diego and the Service Symposium on May 18-19 in Chicago.

FT Works in the News

TSW Conference – 5/2-4 in San Diego

I will be at the TSW conference this week. Come by the booth or suggest an appointment time.

I will be a panelist together with my colleagues Dennis Gershowitz and Phil Verghis, on the topic of Leveraging Social to Measure and Impact the Customer Experience. John Ragsdale of TSIA will be moderating so it should be fun as well as informative. Come listen, Tuesday 3rd at 3:15pm.

Service Symposium- 5/18-19 in Chicago

I am a featured speaker at the upcoming ASP Symposium in Chicago on May 18-19. The topic will be Change! Go here for more information and to register. My talk is at 1pm on Tuesday.

And breaking news: I will also be a panelist in a friendly debate about self-service, pro or con. Guess which side I’m asked to represent!

The Art of Support, Second Edition is now available in hard copy from Amazon. Want an autographed copy? Visit the FT Works bookstore.

Curious about something? Send me your suggestions for topics — or add one in the comments — and your name will appear in future newsletters.

Françoise Tourniaire
FT Works
650 559 9826

About FT Works

FT Works helps technology companies create and improve their support operations. Areas of expertise include designing support offerings, creating hiring plans to recruit the right people quickly, training support staff to deliver effective support, defining and implementing support processes, selecting support tools, designing effective metrics, and support center audits. See more details at www.ftworks.com.

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Premium Support for SaaS

Many thanks to the newsletter reader who suggested this topic and preferred to remain anonymous.
The question is how to create premium support packages for SaaS when many of the features of premium support for traditional, on-premise support are included in standard offerings for SaaS. For instance, while extended-hours support is often viewed as a premium deliverable for on-prem, it is often offered to all SaaS customers. And Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are often assigned automatically to all customers.
Idea #1: SaaS standard support is not always that rich. For instance, SaaS support is not always 24×7, depending on the particular service you provide, and CSMs may not be assigned to smaller customers. Don’t think you have to include everything, and that kitchen sink, in your standard package.
Idea #2: SaaS standard support can be designed to encourage upgrading. This is not a recommendation, but it is a possibility. For instance, you could offer a sluggish response time of 48 hours for standard support (yes, I’m looking at you, Saleforce), with the idea that customers who see your service as mission critical will upgrade to something pricier and faster.
Idea #3: Even with a relatively rich standard package, you can always provide extras. Consider your customers’ specific needs but think about: faster response times, access to a dedicated (more senior) support team or to an assigned support engineer, access to a full-fledged account manager with more frequent contacts than the regular CSM, executive sponsors, membership in advisory boards, the ability to fast-track feature requests, proactive health checks, training credits, etc. Since SaaS customers often rely on the vendor much more than on-prem customers, professional services and sysadmin services are also good candidates for premium support features. And of course you can have more than one level of premium support.
Idea #4: Some SaaS customers will gladly pay for premium support. SaaS  customers are just like any other customers; if they see that your premium offering can deliver something they value, they will pay for it, above and beyond standard support. Premium support packages for SaaS are common and well-accepted, at least by the top 10-20% of customers.
Idea #5: Premium pricing for SaaS is structured much like non-SaaS premium. For on-prem, premium support offerings runs 18-60% higher than regular support (depending on how rich the offering is), with prices expressed as a percentage of the product price. For SaaS, standard support is almost always bundled with the underlying pricing, but if you were to unbundle support (in your mind, that is) and add that very same 18-60% percentage to that number, you would have a good base for pricing premium support.
Also, SaaS premium offerings usually require long-term commitments (a year) just like the on-prem variety, even if standard support does not.
So there are many ways to offer premium options to SaaS customers.  Please share what you are doing in the comments section.

Are you or is someone you know a Type B manager?

Do you think that all good managers are aggressive, brash, and outgoing? In The Type B Manager, Victor Lipman shows how type A people (who are aggressive, brash, and outgoing) tend to be considered more readily for leadership positions, but type B people (who are soft-spoken, quiet, and reflective) can also be great managers, if they can overcome their tendency to avoid conflict.

The book contains two prescriptions, one for type As, who should turn down the volume,  ignore minor things; and watch out for demoralizing off-hand comments. After all, on the receiving end, a dominating, demanding, and distorted boss is not exactly pleasant or motivating — or conducive to constructive dialogue.


The other theme of the book is a prescription for type Bs. Yes, they are measured, analytical, and good listeners, all strengths for managers. On the other hand, they need to work on turning up the volume. Don’t shy way from conflict, drive for productivity, and improve their public speaking abilities.


This would be a great book to share with a quiet individual contributor that you think would be a good manager one day, but may not picture himself or herself as one.