The Implications Of Integrative Negotiation

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Business, career and placement concept - successful young manHave you heard of the term ‘integrative negotiation’?

It’s not a term used often but it’s a concept that can take your negotiating skills onto the next level.

Here, we discuss what it is and how you can best utilise it in your negotiating meetings, especially if you need to get to a position during win-win bargaining.

The term ‘integrative’ comes from the counselling and therapy world. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Rather, each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.

The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of a person’s personality and needs – integrating the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems that exist in each of us. This means when a counsellor is working with a client, they need to assimilate all the components of a person into the discussions.

This is an excellent process to follow when we are looking for a win-win position with our buyers or prospects. Integrative bargaining can be used strategically when in discussions with prospects, allowing the meeting to infuse the needs and wants of the buyer, as well as including your needs and wants as a supplier.

According to, integrative negotiation ‘often involves an agreement process that better integrates the aims and goals of all the involved negotiating parties through creative and collaborative problem solving. Relationship is usually more important, with more complex issues being negotiated.’

This entails an integrative approach that requires us to have a slightly different mindset to normal.

In a normal negotiation, you might find the buyer trying to gain an advantage through a lower price, or overall payment terms. The supplier may counteract with an offer of their own, highlighting features and benefits of the product or service, trying to justify value and build awareness of why the price is set as it is.

This then becomes a trade-off, with both parties setting out their stall and trying to get the other to move closer to their position.

Integrative bargaining identifies what might be called a ‘third position’.

As we saw earlier, win-win bargaining integrates the aims and goals of all the involved negotiating parties through creative and collaborative problem solving. Your position may well highlight the value that you will be bringing to the discussions through your services and product benefits. Their position may well be based on saving money through discounts and better payment terms.

On the face of it, one or both parties need to shift positions in order for any form of agreement to be made.

With integrative bargaining, we ascertain a creative third position, where both the needs and wants of both parties are brought together.

It differentiates between the position of both parties and the interests of both parties.

For example, your product may save the prospect more money for a longer time period than their current solution. In that case, the up-front price may not be as important and as valuable as the cost-savings they will experience with your solution.

You can integrate the savings they will experience with the upfront price to show what the overall value will be for the prospect. This allows them to see how paying the price for your product is actually seen as a benefit over time. The short-term view of saving money now (and possibly missing the chance of purchasing the product) may interfere with the concept of cost saving over a longer period.

You can seek out this ‘third position’ whenever the positions of both parties are not compatible with progressing the discussions.

  • Look for the reasons why the buyer wishes to take their position
  • See if there can be any movement towards their position without conceding value
  • Build another, more creative position, based on increasing the value of your long-term solution
  • Determine a value-based position that will serve the benefits of both parties
  • Come to a third-position agreement that agrees with both of your values

Adopting an integrative approach to your bargaining may well improve your chances of success, as you create a collaborative problem-solving approach and allow your buyer and you to seek a win-win negotiating position that deals with both parties’ interests.

Want to learn more? Then why not book an Advanced Sales Training Course with MTD.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

Sales DNA

Originally published: 14 October, 2019

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