How many times have you walked away from a negotiation because you have dug your heels in on one thing? It might be pricing, availability or something else, but for some reason you did not move the negotiation needle and neither did the other side. 

However, what if you consider the uses of an orange to make this process easier? Here's the analogy: 

Say there are two people negotiating over the use of one orange. In 99% of the time, the two individuals would cut the orange in half and say that was a fair resolution. But what if it isn't what either party wanted? Perhaps one person wanted the outside of the orange for zest and the other wanted the orange for juice. Wouldn't allowing one party to grate the orange and then, returning it to the other be a better deal? Of course it would!

But we don't think that way, especially in the meeting planning business. Often times, whether a supplier wins the business or not boils down to: price, availability of product and dates. However, just as in the orange scenario, there is a better way for both parties to negotiate and it is called Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers or MESOs

The principle behind MESO is to make multiple offers which are mutually equal. The benefit of doing this is you can better understand your partner in a negotiation and offer them what they want. MESOs allow negotiators to collect and integrate information to combine aggressiveness, cooperation and flexibility. 
The key is to be able to put value on everything you want in your RFP and assign points to them. For example, if your first choice is to hold a meeting at a hotel during their peak season and peak day of the week, you know ahead of time the meeting room discount and room block are going to be very low, if you receive any discount at all. However, if you go there during their off-season and on a day of the week that is very slow for the hotel, you should expect to receive a hefty discount. Both are valuable proposals; one addresses availability and the other price.  
Here are the 3 keys to a successful negotiation with MESOs:
  1. Identify and prioritize what each party wants. 

    While keeping the price point low is important to you as the event planner, making the most profit is very important to your partners. This is the case for most suppliers, including conference equipment rental companies. Try and come prepared with your list and ask your partner to do the same. Price point is only one element — interactive technology tool rentals, experience of staff, availability of equipment and slow times of the year — are also considerations. 

  2. Brainstorm different offerings. 

    Let your creative juices flow and come up with as many options as possible that still will meet the basic needs of your meeting. 

  3. Ask for 3 equivalent proposals. 

    Make certain they are equal and can add up to the same points value. Even though this is subjective in nature, the process shows creativity, flexibility and the best options based on your needs. 

So the next time you get into a negotiation, think about an orange and go from there.

AV Event Solutions, now part of SmartSource Rentals, is a great conference equipment rental organization. With 20 branches nationwide, they offer a local presence with the depth and breadth of a national organization. Give them a call at 888.249.4903 to get started!