I don’t know about you, but when I muster up the vision of “tough” negotiations, I always think of a smoke filled room full of poker faced individuals -- rigid yet successful – in their ability to squeeze the last nickel out of a vendor.
I actually dealt with this type of negotiation style when I worked for IBM in the 1990s. I was on the EDS team and they had the fiercest negotiators around. You knew whatever price you came up with, they wanted to slash it by 20-30% and the deeper the cuts, the more they bragged about it to other co-workers.
Thank goodness for the most part things are not that way any longer. Here are current trends in negotiation strategy based on my own experiences and also cited by Deepak Malhotra, professor of negotiation and conflict resolution at Harvard Business School.
7 Tips to Negotiating Success
- Before the meeting, differentiate between your must-haves and nice-to-haves.
The “must-haves” are deal breakers and you need to get those out of the way right way because if they cannot be fulfilled by your technology supplier, there is no sense in continuing the meeting.
- Make sure you have the right people at the table.
If you want your negotiations to be time efficient, meet with people who can make a decision about your requirements. By the same token, if you are not authorized to sign the contract or make final pricing decisions, bring the people who have that power to the meeting.
- Negotiate everything at once.
Rather than spreading your negotiations out over several meetings, bring everything you need and want to the table at the same time. Be sure to go over your list in the order of importance to you, finishing your list with nice-to-haves.
If you list is long, be prepared for extensive dialog about your requirements. Be sure to allot enough time for discussion and resolution.
- Sell yourself and what you want.
After presenting your list, be sure to go into detail about why each item is important to you and important to your office, event or tradeshow.
For example, if you want large touch screen rentals to help attendees learn more about conference speakers and/or navigation around the trade show floor, sell the importance of these units to the overall conference experience. Mention how many units you are planning on renting and how many conferences you hold in a year where this technology can be extremely useful.
- Don’t make or take ultimatums.
Ultimatums don’t work – especially when you are trying to build a long-term relationship with a technology partner. If you are on the receiving end of an ultimatum, just ignore it and move on.
Why don’t they work? Partly because your negotiations are immediately thrust into defensive posturing which cause the other side to take an even firmer position, and partly because there are a plethora of technology providers out there, so individuals can to quickly move to another vendor.
- When asked difficult questions, always tell the truth.
Many difficult questions will come up in negotiations, including a few you did not plan on. Don’t hide behind a cloak of secrecy when none exists. Share with your potential partner your budget, other vendors that are bidding this business and most importantly why you need such deep concessions.
- Be prepared to walk away.
At the end of your meeting, if your must-haves are not met or your budget and deliverables are still far apart, be prepared to end the meeting and move on to the next vendor. Be polite, shake their hands and thank them for their time.
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