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What it takes to be a top dog negotiator

Hints and tips from the other side of the table to make the negotiation process fun, fair and realistic.

Regular readers of Dynamic Business may know that my organisation sells spend control solutions to organisations across Australia, and indeed the world, so on a regular basis I am faced with procurement experts wanting to purchase software to help them in their procurement role.

Having undertaken many implementations over a 12 year period and having many years of IT software experience, I am not only selling to these organisations. In addition I am offering advice in regards to their strategy and even helping them design reasonably complex processes. So I guess you could say I believe I add value throughout the sales process.

However one thing that irritates me more than anything is when a procurement professional just does not know when to stop buying. The best negotiators are those who come to the meeting with a negotiation planned out – but with room to be flexible, a mindset of fairness to both parties (Win-Win) and an appreciation for what you have done for them to date as a professional.

We are living in a commercial world and we all expect to negotiate and in fact with a really good negotiator this can be a fun experience. I really admire the skills of a good negotiator but detest the skills of a negotiator that after going through a lengthy process wants to screw you down to an unworkable deal.

So for the bad negotiators here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Go on some professional negotiations training – CIPS can help you out on this.
  2. Plan how you are going to carry out the negotiations prior to your meeting.
  3. Respect the efforts of the vendor in the process to date – remember the organisation you are in negotiation with has been shortlisted for a reason and the one you ultimately want to do business.
  4. Negotiate a deal once properly – don’t attempt to have multiple bites at the cherry.
  5. If you are comparing products versus price make sure you are comparing like for like (functionality, quality, skills, etc).
  6. Understand that a fair negotiation normally requires a trade – The vendor gives you something and you give them something in return.
  7. Recognise the need for compromise – for example, if you want a number of modules of the software but your budget won’t allow it during negotiation consider dropping a module until a later date (Phase 2).
  8. For a negotiation to be ‘win-win’, both parties should feel positive about the negotiation once it’s over. This helps people keep good ongoing working relationships and this could result in years of happy interaction.
  9. Don’t introduce someone at the last minute, after negotiations are complete, hoping for more discounts.
  10. Once you have agreed terms and conditions, stick to them.

Effective negotiation requires focus, concentration and skill. When it’s done right, everyone feels like they’re walking away a winner!

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Scott Graham

Scott Graham

Scott is the Director of Kinetic Information Systems, an Australian specialist software and services company. Kinetic are a company that are focused on solutions to organisational problems using best-in-class software. Taking time to understand your problems understand what you want and what you are trying to deliver, we offer practical solutions and employ structured methods to deliver those solutions on time and on budget. Kinetic help clients identify business value, manage risk and realise higher levels of success from their programmes and initiatives. We specialise in eProcurement, Business Intelligence and ERP solutions. You can connect with Scott via his <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottgrahamkinetic">LinkedIn profile</a> or <a href="http://www.kineticis.com.au">website</a>.

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