How A Skilled Negotiator Prepares
By Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3
Are You A Well-Prepared Negotiator?
A skilled negotiator knows the benefits of preparation. Here are four ways a skilled negotiator prepares:
- The Skilled Negotiator Knows His Counterpart. Purchasing professionals often fail in negotiations due to being
caught off-guard by the experience and/or aggressiveness of the supplier's negotiator. So always learn about your
counterpart before you begin negotiations. Insist on a phone conversation prior to the negotiation. You can tell the
supplier that the purpose of the call is to shore up logistical details like time, location, and length of your meeting.
And do shore them up. But also find out more about your counterpart through 'small talk.' How long has she been selling
the product or service? Is he an aggressive personality? Then, adjust your tactics for that type of counterpart.
- The Skilled Negotiator Uses Deep Logic. Logic can be a powerful negotiating tool. But a skilled supplier negotiator
will anticipate your logic and shoot it down. For example, let's say you were buying used aircraft parts. You may say to
the supplier who bid $3,000 for a part "I always see these parts selling for $2,000, so your price isn't fair." That might
be good logic, but the supplier may say "But those parts are in 'repaired' condition rather than 'overhauled' condition and
don't have the same warranty." If you didn't go deep with your logic and consider all possible supplier responses, you
likely have no more ammunition for persuasion.
- The Skilled Negotiator Controls The Meeting. Salespeople are taught to control meetings. In a negotiation, this
disarms you and prevents you from reaching your negotiation goals. Don't let the supplier control the meeting. Either
present an agenda or prepare a set of probing questions to lead the conversation. And when you've achieved the results
you're looking for, give signals that the meeting is over (e.g., stand up, say "Thank you for your time in meeting with me
- The Skilled Negotiator Knows What The Supplier Will Ask & How To Answer. At the outset of negotiations, suppliers want
to learn if they can earn your business with their current proposals or if they have to improve them. Be prepared for their questions and
know how you're going to answer them. What the supplier wants to learn is:
- Are you the decision maker?
- Do you have the budget to pay the current price?
- How quickly do you need to make a decision?
- Are there other suppliers that you're courting?
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