After sending out yesterday’s PurchTips article “How A Skilled Negotiator Prepares,” I received a request from a subscriber asking for advice with regard to preparation tactic #4 – The Skilled Negotiator Knows What The Supplier Will Ask & How To Answer. Specifically, she wanted to know how to respond if the supplier asked the specific questions referenced in order to find out what they were seeking to learn.

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Here’s the gist of my response…

Because each situation will be different, it is impossible to provide the single best answer to each question that would be honest in every case. But I can tell you how certain responses affect your leverage…

* Are you the decision maker?

You will have more leverage if you are the decision-maker. Saying that there is a team or another decision-maker will make some suppliers want to speak directly to the team or manager (sometimes doing so without your knowledge or consent) and not treat you with the same level of respect. If you’re not the decision-maker and you admit it, you should certainly indicate that your recommendations will have a great deal of influence in the decision.

* Do you have the budget to pay the current price?

This can be a two-edged sword. Saying you have the budget will make the supplier feel less compelled to change his price. Saying you don’t have the budget will make the supplier feel that you are not serious about buying and therefore feel that negotiation is pointless. I like to use a standard response like “As a matter of policy, we simply do not discuss budget with suppliers regardless of the situation.”

* How quickly do you need to make a decision?

The quicker you need to make a decision will make a supplier feel that you might be pressured to accept a higher price.

* Are there other suppliers that you’re courting?

I always say “As a matter of policy, we do not discard any options until a deal is signed.”

Please note that these questions may be asked directly or the information can be gleaned more subtly. A savvy salesperson will find less intrusive questions to ask to get at the same information!

If you want a more comprehensive education in negotiation, you may want to consider enrolling in our online class “Powerful Negotiation For Successful Buying.”

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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