1808 – Professional Negotiation with Todd Camp of Camp Negotiation Systems

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Co-Owner and CNO of Camp Negotiation Systems, Todd Camp.

Camp Wide

Todd Camp has revolutionized the approach to this crucial aspect of business. His system assists negotiators, from startup co-founders to CEOs, in preparing, executing, and debriefing negotiations and business relationships. According to Todd, negotiation is not just about making deals; it's about making decisions.

When asked whether negotiation is more of an art or a science, Todd leans towards science, citing the role of emotion in decision-making as proven by neuroscience.

However, he acknowledges that the way individuals communicate—their mannerisms, speech pace, body language, and choice of words—is where the artistry comes into play.

Todd challenges the notion that negotiations with entities like the government are devoid of emotion. He argues that even in such scenarios, individuals are driven by emotional factors, such as how they are rewarded or graded for their performance.

For service providers, Todd emphasizes the importance of understanding that decisions are made in the client's world, not ours. He advises spending time early in relationships to truly understand the client's challenges and how you can provide solutions that benefit them.

Todd recommends asking open-ended questions that start with “what” and “how” to encourage clients to articulate their needs and vision. This approach helps uncover the true value you can provide, rather than pitching features and benefits prematurely.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Overview of the work done by Camp Negotiation Systems
  • The role of emotion in decision-making and negotiation
  • The importance of understanding the other party's perspective
  • The art and science of negotiation
  • Negotiation in government contracts and procurement
  • The mindset and approach in sales conversations
  • The value of asking good, open-ended questions
  • Overcoming discomfort in asking probing questions
  • The work and approach of Camp Negotiation Systems today

About Todd Camp:

Todd Camp is the influential owner and chief negotiation officer of Camp Systems, a Silicon Valley-based company widely recognized by major media outlets such as CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Inc.

In addition to his role at Camp Systems, Todd is the co-founder and partner of The Pareto Group, a renowned negotiation coaching firm catering to co-founders and executives in Silicon Valley and NYC-based venture-backed startups.

Co-author of the book “No, The Only System of Negotiation You Need For Work and Home,” Todd has conducted live coaching sessions across the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, and Asia.

Notably, he recently contributed as a speaker and sponsor at the Negotiation Leadership Conference at Harvard University, organized by the Harvard Alumni Association.

About Camp Negotiation Systems:

Camp Negotiation Systems distinguishes itself by eliminating unnecessary compromise, aiming for more profitable agreements that bolster the bottom line and foster enduring business relationships.

The system is designed to work confidentially with clients and their teams on real business deals. This strategic process enhances effectiveness in preparing for, executing, and managing critical conversations from inception to conclusion.

By prioritizing tangible results and long-term partnerships, the Camp System of Negotiation stands out in its commitment to delivering financial gains and cultivating robust and lasting connections in the business realm.

Tweetable Moments:

03:23 – “Neuroscience has proven that emotion plays a key role in every decision we make.”

09:04 – “There are four reasons why people reject: they lack the emotional vision of benefit, they lack the data to support that vision, they don't have the authority, or they're using ‘no' as a tactic.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Camp Negotiation Systems website at

Check out Camp Negotiation Systems on LinkedIn at

Check out Todd Camp on LinkedIn at

Check out Todd Camp on Twitter at

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Josh (00:00:05) - A thoughtful listener before we get going. Did you know that my company up My has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my, where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my, where you'll see shows like Profit, Powerhouse with Glenn Poulos, sales negotiations, and business insights. This isn't just another business podcast, it's a deep dive into the strategies that truly drive success. Hosted by Glenn Poulos, a seasoned sales strategist and business growth expert. Each episode is packed with insights from top executives and business leaders. If you're a high level executive looking to share your expertise and story, we want you on profit powerhouse. Your experiences could be the exact insights Glenn's audience of ambitious business leaders are craving.

Josh (00:01:27) - And for our listeners, if you're ready to elevate your business acumen and learn from the best in the industry, profit Powerhouse with Glenn Poulos is your go to resource. Subscribe now and join a community of professionals who are transforming the business world, ready to be a part of something groundbreaking? Visit up my influence and click on the podcast tab to find profit powerhouse. Whether you're looking to be the next guest or just seeking invaluable business wisdom, this is where your journey begins. Again, just go to up my influence. Com and click on the podcast tab. With us right now, it's Todd Camp. Todd, you are the co-owner and chief negotiation officer with Camp Negotiation Systems. You found on the web at camp Todd, it's great to have you.

Todd (00:02:24) - Yes, Josh, thanks for having me.

Josh (00:02:26) - All right. Yeah. Please give us an overview of the work that you do with camp.

Todd (00:02:30) - Absolutely. So we have a system of negotiation that essentially helps teams of negotiators, executives, startup co-founder, CEOs who really, whoever negotiates for a living.

Todd (00:02:43) - It gives them a methodical process to help them prepare, execute, debrief throughout the life of the negotiation or in some cases, business relationships. Because once you have a deal, a lot of times, right, you have to execute and work with the other party for quite, quite some time. So any time someone is asking you to make a decision or they're asking you to to make a decision, we actually think of that as a negotiation. So you can apply our system in any of those environments.

Josh (00:03:13) - Yeah. So when we think about negotiation, like the skills of negotiation, would you consider negotiation be more art, more science 5050.

Todd (00:03:23) - Great question. So I think more science in terms of how the human brain makes decisions, how people make decisions. You know, uh, neuroscience has proven that emotion plays a key role in every decision we make. And so understanding that and how important the emotional vision of benefit to the other side of what you're asking them to agree to is incredibly important. And there's some ways to do that.

Todd (00:03:49) - But decision making is essentially what negotiations are. If you think about agreements or contracts, they're typically nothing but hundreds if not thousands of decisions over a collected period of time that got you to that agreement. So a lot of it, we believe, is science in terms of what you say and how you say it to us, that is where you become the artist. So there are behavioral tools that we teach in our process, but how each individual communicates their mannerisms, the the pace of their speech, you know, their body language, the questions they ask, the words they use to us. That is where the artwork comes in.

Josh (00:04:31) - Yeah. Uh, you had mentioned that negotiations are emotional decisions. What if someone says, well, listen, we're just dealing with the government. There's no emotions. It's all completely binary, completely logical, no emotions involved in the decision making process.

Todd (00:04:48) - Well, if someone said that, I would accept that statement. But understand that, uh, you know, we have the right to disagree and no reason to call them out, that they don't make emotional decisions.

Todd (00:05:00) - I'm sure there's some way that they benefit from negotiating that contract on behalf of the government. You know, they're graded in certain ways and rewarded in certain ways. So there's absolutely still emotion involved. So I don't unless you're a robot. Uh, it's kind of hard to turn that off. But I get the point. You know, a lot of procurement teams try and make this all about the numbers, you know, trying to control costs, get costs down. But those procurement teams, no matter whether they operate from in within Walmart or Apple, um, they still are rewarded and kind of, uh, I don't want to say graded, but, you know, their performance improvement plans or their performance is graded on how well they do saving, you know, the company money. And so I can assure you they're still making emotional decisions.

Josh (00:05:54) - Yeah. Well, let's, um, bring this down maybe to kind of like a local level. Let's say that it's a agency owner or a consultant, and they're at the helm of an SMB, and they're in a conversation.

Josh (00:06:05) - And this is a sales conversation. What is a good like mindset or frame that we should put ourselves? When we think about the dynamic of there's me who is a service provider, and then there's this other person that is a potential customer, but they have some considerations of their own.

Todd (00:06:27) - Absolutely. And, you know, we often ask our clients, whose world does the other party make decisions in yours or their own? And so especially when you're on the sales side, you have to keep in mind they're going to make decisions in their own world. So everything we do very early on is trying to figure out exactly what it is we can provide the other party that's 100% in their world to their benefit, and how do we think they want us to provide that? So we spend the vast majority of our time very early in, in relationships, getting to know the other party, really digging in on what their challenges are or what. Communities. You know your product or service helps them secure that they can't secure on their own.

Todd (00:07:12) - So we want to have conversations, really. That gets to the heart of the matter in terms of what they're trying to, um, you know, what they're trying to solve for and also understanding how can we help them in that effort? Because once you have that, uh, in our system, we call it mission and purpose. But once you have that, you almost always want to recite back what you think you've heard the other party is looking for from you, and you want to hear them say something like, uh, that's correct or that's right. That's exactly why we're talking to you. Or they may they may tune you up a little bit and say, well, yeah, those things are important. But there's also this piece that's important. Okay, great. Let's talk about that. What is it about that that has you concerned or what is it about that that's critical, uh, that you work on. And so we spend a lot of time in the other parties world trying to uncover what it is we can, you know, do for them.

Josh (00:08:08) - Wow. So it sounds like, you know, asking great questions is a great way to kind of enter into this, right? Because if we're if we're just going into this, I mean, I think the opposite of that would just be railroading with everything that we want without stopping to say, listen, what is the greatest value I can provide here? And, you know, truly the way to discover that is just to ask really good questions. Would you recommend that, folks? I mean, at least to kind of get the momentum on going down on this road, uh, to do this a little bit better, maybe jotting these questions down, how do we come up with really good questions to ask?

Todd (00:08:44) - Yeah. So I think this will be helpful. You know, we constantly do this exercise with our clients, especially if they're on the sell side. We believe that there's four reasons why people reject why and how people can say no to you. The first is they lack the emotional vision of benefit associated with a yes.

Todd (00:09:04) - Second is they lack the data to support that emotional vision. Third is they don't have the authority. And fourth is they're using no as a tactic to bluff, hoping to drive concessions. So that first reason why, you know, people reject lack of vision of benefit. You've got to you've got to spend a lot of time there asking very good what we call interrogative or open ended questions that start with what and how. You know, what is it about X that is challenging you and your business? Right. Let them answer that question. Follow up with how are you currently trying to solve for that? You know, what have you done in the past to solve for that? And how did it work out or what was it lacking? So you want to ask good open ended questions to get them to talk about how they see things. And sometimes you want to ask them what may appear to be pretty challenging questions, to force them to think about it. Yeah, that that, you know, when people are talking, they're forced to think about, how do I think about this? How do I see it? Versus a lot of people we see go straight in with their PowerPoint, you know, their slide deck.

Todd (00:10:14) - Yeah. They start pitching all the features and benefits and all the data they've collected over the years on how great they are. And they skip that first step of really creating vision on what it is you have that you can provide. You want people to pull from you the data. You want people to ask you how much it costs. When you start with those things, usually you create objections because they're not ready to hear it or see it. And that's a big mistake. A lot of people, unfortunately, you know, trap themselves into.

Josh (00:10:47) - You know, I feel like I would be I ask some questions, right. And I don't some of the questions that like you're talking about, I'm kind of like thinking about that. I'd like to be asking. I'm nervous about asking those questions because it feels like I'm being I don't want them to say, well, you're being nosy. That's none of your business.

Todd (00:11:05) - Yes. So there's a couple of things we do to, um, relax. That feeling of being uncomfortable or feeling of appearing to be pushy.

Todd (00:11:17) - One thing we do very early, once we get the meeting set, is we set kind of an agenda before the meeting, and we we ask for permission, especially if it makes you uncomfortable. You have to find a way to put it on the table. Something like, you know, listen, I'm looking forward to our meeting. I'm not quite sure how much we can help you or even if we can, um, you know, there will come a time when I'm happy to give you a proposal or, you know, really fill you in on exactly how we work and how we execute with our clients. But before that, it's important that I understand exactly what you're up against or what you're trying to solve for. Um, for that reason, you know, I'd like to start by asking some questions. How comfortable are you with that? And so you put your baggage, what we call baggage or your concerns, right on the table. Say, you know, I'd like to start by asking some questions that I'm hoping aren't too sensitive.

Todd (00:12:13) - Are you okay if I ask you those? And most human beings will say, yes, of course, go ahead.

Speaker 3 (00:12:19) - Yeah. You're right.

Josh (00:12:20) - It's my own hang up. Right? Yeah.

Todd (00:12:23) - Yeah. A lot of what we do, it's funny. Our people joke. We want you to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Yeah, because our system and our method and our mindset is pretty contrarian to most, um, negotiation methodologies out there. So being comfortable, being uncomfortable is kind of a, you know, a key requirement for the people that we work with because a lot of our work is coaching our clients and real deals. And so if you're not willing to be uncomfortable and if you're not coachable, you know, we're probably not going to be that effective with you. So.

Josh (00:13:00) - Uh, so there is a very, very popular, probably the most popular book ever written on negotiation. And it's called start with no. And it's written by someone named Jim Camp. I think you know him.

Todd (00:13:13) - Absolutely.

Todd (00:13:14) - In fact, I started working with him shortly after that book was published, I believe, back in 2001. Up until that point, before he wrote the book, you know, he was known as a boutique negotiation coach in Silicon Valley. A lot of his clients were semiconductor executives and C-suite. He wrote that book, and he he had so much traffic and, um, interest come in kind of organically through that where people were inquiring, how do I get trained in this? How do I get coaching for me or my team? And so both, both me and my brother Jim actually started working with my dad, Jim, back then. And we worked up, you know, with them until he passed in 2014.

Josh (00:13:58) - Wow. Uh, so share just a bit about the work you do today with camp negotiations. Like what? How you engage, how you work with leaders.

Todd (00:14:07) - Yeah. So most people reach out to us thinking that they need training. And what we've discovered, and we have a pretty strong belief, is that training in itself is not enough.

Todd (00:14:18) - So what we are known as, and what we take a lot of pride in is working. There is a training component. We are going to train you to get you academically in a place where you understand why we're recommending you do what you do. But more than that, we like to take responsibility for our work. So we work alongside our client as much as they need us. People think of us as an on demand business, and we help them in each critical conversation they have with the other party. We help them prepare for that. We help them script out exactly what they want to say and how they want to say it. Sometimes we'll even do some role playing with them on objections or things they might get pushed back on. And then we after that, we help them debrief, and the way we debrief will actually help them identify what the next agenda should be. And then we'll do it all over again. Help them prepare, execute and debrief using our method. But we do it with, um, you know, pretty intense coaching.

Todd (00:15:16) - We make ourselves available. I don't say 24, seven 365, but pretty close to it. And because we find on the job, training is always the best. So in order for us to change habits, in order for this to stick, we believe coaching very, you know, thoroughly and often is required. So our business model is we work with less people and we go very deep and we stay very long with them until as long as it takes. And they feel like they got it on their own.

Josh (00:15:43) - Yeah. Your website is camp to a friend that's been listening to our conversation and they want more. What would you recommend they do after this interview?

Todd (00:15:55) - Yeah. So we uh, depending if they're an individual, you know, we do have online training. Uh, it's self-paced. They can go, you know, get in there and and learn the system from an academic, you know, standpoint. But then we also provide we do workshops where we come on site to our clients.

Todd (00:16:13) - We don't do public workshops, but if it's a company that wants us to come in for them and their teams will absolutely travel to them and put a day or two day workshops on, and then people who, you know, their hair is on fire and they want to talk to someone. Right now, we do have, you know, an urgent help. Sign up, uh, on our website where they fill that in. And then, you know, I have a team of five coaches, so we'll depending on who's available, we'll get to them, you know, within that day. And, uh, we'll we'll have them describe what they're working on. Who's on the other side of the table. Give us a backdrop of how things got to where they are. Yeah. And and then we'll be able to help them identify, you know, what's what the next step should be. So there's a whole you can also buy the book. You know, there's self-help things that are available. But uh, all the way up to coaching engagement where we're going to work with you for as long as you need us.

Josh (00:17:07) - Yeah. On your website, you've got online, uh, training programs, workshops. Uh, certainly. There's the book. Um, start with. No, by your dad, Jim. Uh, which is also an audiobook. I mean, it's a classic. I mean, it's if you look on Amazon, it's pretty much like the I think that and Chris Voss, which I know you've done some collaborations with Chris as well. So yeah.

Todd (00:17:29) - That's correct. The Black Swan group, they do a heck of a job. I think Jim coached Chris and a lot of the team that he was working with at the FBI back in the early 2000. And, you know, we've had a close relationship ever since. We have a slightly different business model than Chris, because we do go very deep into the trenches of real negotiations all the time, all day, every day. But, um, yeah, his book is outstanding. In fact, we tell a lot of people, if you're interested in our system, you know, start with no, start there.

Todd (00:18:01) - And then if you want more, read Chris's book and you'll see more synergies between what we do and what he does, probably than any other two, uh, camps, no pun intended. In the negotiation training world, there's just a lot of similarities. So.

Josh (00:18:16) - Yeah, camp Uh, to our friend that's listening to us, there's the website in your podcast app. Just click around, click the information, click the cover art. You'll find the direct link to that. Uh, and again you'll see everything from the book, online learning, personal coaching opportunities and even the urgent help, which if we had more time. Boy, I bet that evokes some good stories every once in a while. I never know what comes to that door.

Todd (00:18:42) - It's. Yeah, it's pretty intense. People ask us quite a bit. How can you be so calm? You know, our we're getting ready to run out of money in three weeks and critical negotiations happening. But you seem very calm, and I'm.

Todd (00:18:55) - It's pretty simple. Number one. Yeah. We have a system that keeps us safe. And we've used it so many times that keeps us calm. But number two is, uh, we've seen this situation many, many times over the course of the last 20 years. So just focusing on what to say and how to say it in the next conversation is really what you need to do. So you have to find a way to to block out that extreme intense pressure. You feel.

Josh (00:19:22) - Excellent. All right. Again, Todd Camp, thank you so much. Chief negotiating officer at camp Todd, thank you so much for joining us.

Todd (00:19:33) - Thank you Josh.

Josh (00:19:39) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up my influence common Guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our Listener Facebook group.

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