There’s a saying that goes like “All negotiations are won and lost before they ever start”. This is true especially for those buyers who think that they don’t have time for a pre negotiation meeting. These procurement professionals just jump in to negotiations without adequate information, counter intelligence and analysis.
Pre Negotiation Meeting is a pay now or pay later process.
However the Pre Negotiation Meeting is a pay now or pay later process. If you say that you don’t have time for this, you will pay later and you’ll pay later through the nose, because negotiations will take longer and they’ll have less positive results.
You get a splash of cold water when you don’t do for a pre-negotiation meeting because your negotiations will take even longer since pre-analysis wasn’t done.
Tendency of Buyers Is To Tell Suppliers What They Want!
Even when buyers have an informal pre-negotiation meeting, the tendency as procurement professionals is to go in negotiations and tell suppliers, ‘Here are the things we want.’ This is a completely wrong approach.
Don’t Shout At Suppliers To Tell What You Want!
What you want to do is to always picture the supplier with a defence shield, that’s either going up or going down. When you go on to a pre negotiation meeting with them and start telling them what to do, the defence shield goes up. Before you can negotiate with somebody, they have to know, like and trust you. You have to start with asking them what they want from the deal to be successful.
Ask Suppliers What They Want From the Deal
Now, here’s the deal, you’re not asking them this, because you’re saying you’re going to do those things. You’re asking them this because we’re doing counter intelligence gathering. Remember I said that the goal is to bake as many pies as possible—that’s what you’re doing here
When you ask them what they need from the deal to be successful, you’re trying to pull information out of them and this needs to be a 20, 30 minute discussion, where you find out every single interest that they have and possibly classify those interests and to be able to say which ones are of high value to the supplier but have a low TCO impact to you. You want to leverage those things to achieve breakthrough results, that few buyers ever experience.
Do Not Express Disagreement
Perception counts when you do this. This cannot be a lip service exercise. It has to be genuine. You have to practice not expressing disagreements. No matter how disagreeable what they say might be. The reason is you’re not negotiating yet, this is a Pre-Negotiating Meeting. If you start to express disagreement, their defence shield goes up.
Genuinely Show That You Care To Buy Goodwill
All you have to do right now is just to show you care about the other party. That is going to buy you goodwill and it’s going to make the supplier more willing to make positive concessions for you as a motivational factor for them to help you be successful.
Find Out Who The Other Players/Decision Makers Are
Some of the other objectives you want to achieve is you want to know the players on the other side and you want to know who the decision makers are. You do not want to assume that you know who the decision makers are because it’s not true that the most senior person is always the decision maker. Lots of times the most senior person is not the decision maker. Sometimes the quietest person at the table is the one who’s holding all the cards and who’s calling all the shots.
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