There are many different places to go for negotiations training (in general), but where is a great place for learning about the art of software negotiations with customers, partners, etc. I highly recommend the Program on Negotiations at Harvard. I have attended some of their seminars, read some of their books, and have found that there is no better methodology for software customer and partner negotiations (from the perspective of the software vendor for say their software or SAAS contract negotiations). You ask why the PON is great, well let me elaborate.
1) Software Negotiations are Unique. These negotiations are unique as,
- you are selling something that is by definition intangible,
- a general matter software transactions are (i) long-term (i.e. it is not a one shot-deal) and (ii) co-dependent relationship (i.e. you each need each other over time) negotiations, and
- you are generally dealing with super smart people on both sides of the table, who are technically savvy too (i.e. BS will not get you very far).
2) Transparency and Honesty are the Key. I have negotiated in many different industries over my nearly 20 year legal career, and I have not found any other industry that requires more honesty and transparency over the long haul than this industry. Every software vendor wants their customer to understand how their technology works, what their revenue model is, and what problem it is solves (and doesn’t); so communication and education are super important. Now selling vaporware is not the way to do it (even though it has been done in past and probably will still be done), and the courts have shown that when this happens you will pay (in a big way).
3) A Collaborative Negotiation Process Works Best. There are hundreds of different negotiation styles, but I think this industry demands a win-win negotiations process. This is where the Program on Negotiation at Harvard comes into play, as this is core to every part of their program.
Take a look at their curriculum of training classes, as I think you will find a few that will resonate with you or address a problem you are having (from ‘Difficult Conversations’ to ‘General Negotiation Training for Senior Managers’). If it is not for you, then consider sending your head of Business Development or Sales, or CFO, as they may need to build their negotiation skills. In my opinion–for the software and SAAS industry–this is the place to go to get trained on how to negotiate.
Disclaimer: This post is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Hire an attorney if you need legal advice.