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4 Rules For Negotiating By Phone

PurchTips - Edition # 160

By Charles Dominick, SPSM


Have You Ever Broken These Negotiating Rules?

Negotiating by phone has both similarities and differences with negotiating in person. Therefore, there are some special rules that you must apply when negotiating by phone. These four rules may sound too simple. But don't dismiss them. These little things can make a big difference in your negotiation success.

Rule #1 - Don't Shortchange Your Preparation. Yes, negotiating by phone is different than negotiating in person. But you must prepare just the same. Know, in advance, what your target terms are; what you will say to persuade your supplier to agree to those terms; and how much you are willing to concede. You must also be prepared for the questions your supplier counterpart may ask you. Whether you stumble in your speech in person or stumble on the phone, you always weaken your negotiating position when you stumble. So be prepared!

Rule #2 - Always Initiate The Call. Negotiating successfully requires focus. If you are caught off-guard by a supplier calling you, your focus will not be as strong. If you pick up a ringing phone and there is a supplier representative on the other end and she wants to discuss terms, ask to call her back in five minutes. Use that time to review what you prepared and then call the supplier. Initiating the call gives you more control.

Rule #3 - Turn Off Your Screens. In today's connected world, we expect ourselves to multi-task. That's great. But not during a negotiation. Checking email during a negotiation will dull your focus and could result in your failure to object to terms that the supplier is introducing. Eliminate the risk of such a distraction and just turn off your computer screen or Blackberry. Your email will be waiting for you when the call is over.

Rule #4 - Promptly Transcribe Your Notes. In-person negotiation discussions are easier to remember because you remember what you see, hear, and write. In phone negotiations, you have one less sense for your memory to depend upon. As you negotiate by phone, you probably scribble down notes about your conversation. They will make sense to you when you read them. Until tomorrow. Type up your notes immediately after your call so that you can have a clear recollection of the negotiation outcome later.

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