The difference between ‘professional’ and ‘master’ level negotiation skills in pharma licensing

Negotiating a licensing deal in pharma and biotech not only requires a broad technical understanding of processes and tools like valuation, term sheets, contracts, etc.... , you also need to be a good negotiator!

In this article, Dr. Roger Cox, CELforPharma faculty member for The Pharma Licensing Negotiation Course, outlines how a master negotiator distinguishes from a professional one on 6 critical personal skills:

  1. Relationships:

    Professional negotiators approach relationships with finesse and diplomacy. They gracefully accept rejection, but maintain persistence without becoming too pushy. Their focus is first on building rapport and trust through tactful communication.

    Master negotiators go beyond what professional negotiators can do in diffusing challenging situations with emotional intelligence. Their skills allow surface-level interactions to develop into mutual respect and empathy, fostering genuine connections at the negotiation table.
  2. Listening:

    Professional negotiators listen ‘between the lines’, gathering information about their counterpart's position. They analyse nuances to effectively understand motivations and interests.

    Master negotiators possess a profound understanding of the other party's true intentions. They skillfully interpret cues and respond to what the counterpart desires, creating an environment of trust and collaboration.
  3. Leverage:

    Professional negotiators identify power dynamics and trade concessions reasonably. They understand the importance of balance and fairness in achieving negotiated agreements which will successfully work in the long term.

    Master negotiators utilise appropriate power plays to achieve desired results, refraining from abusing strong positions. They strategically utilise their leverage to optimise outcomes while upholding integrity.
  4. Credibility: 

    Professional negotiators confidently state their position, striving for clarity and consistency. They establish credibility through assertive communication and a demonstrable track record.

    Master negotiators manoeuvre negotiation dynamics, transforming the dialogue from 'them vs. us' to 'we.' They cultivate credibility through collaborative problem-solving and shared goals.
  5. Judgment:

    Professional negotiators recognise reasonable boundaries for each party and know when to push further or concede. They exercise sound judgment to navigate negotiations effectively. 

    Master negotiators leverage the negotiation space to motivate the other party towards closure and future deals. They develop an intuitive understanding of human behaviour and leverage it to drive favourable outcomes. 
  6. Planning:

    Professional negotiators invest in detailed preparation, ensuring they are equipped with relevant information and strategies.

    Master negotiators plan in detail, researching different potential outcome and innovating solutions on the fly to address evolving challenges and to capitalise on emerging opportunities.


To realise true win-win deals, mastering the above skills is essential for navigating the complexities of pharmaceutical negotiations and driving success in an ever-changing landscape. 



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