Negotiations are part of business and that’s no different in the US than anywhere else.

What might be different is the focus on relationships vs. transactions.

The US with is long history of independence and make it on your own is often ends results oriented focus. “What can you do for me” would not be an uncommon concept in US negotiations.

Additionally US companies and negotiators are often focused on relationships but relationships, in the US, are often used to build trust and as a measure of whether the negotiating counterparty is rear and can perform. But sometimes trust and relationship in the US can be replaced with a testimonial or stamp of approval from a third party.

Which means, overall, that relationships are often viewed as part of a transaction with the relationships being a necessary precursor to transacting business.

The foreign negotiator will often struggle with the US negotiating style because there doesn’t seem to be a clear focus on relationships or transactions in the US.

A Working Model

A working model for thinking of this is building “enough” trust. With American negotiators the threshold is often knowing you are “for real” and capable of carrying out a transaction and delivering. Once you are “for real” then you can get down to the transactional side of business where you are compared to others that are “for real”.

When you see US sales training materials you’ll often see a lot of focus on relationships. And that’s because very few in the US are effective at building relationships. What’s often not covered enough is the fact that the relationship doesn’t guarantee a sale — it’s just a gateway to the next step.

This working model is a clear oversimplification – but it is simple and gives you some idea of where to start in the US.

We cover more detail on the US business system and what is important to negotiate for in my Doing Business in the US Course.  Check it out here.

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