Back in July, our fearless webmaster, and noted humorist, Bill Dorn discussed the importance of the “Golden Rule” during any negotiation. His message was simple: Don’t ask for the unreasonable in a negotiation. There are few sentiments I agree with more when it comes to business. And while it is necessary evil, it doesn’t need to be viewed this way.
Whether we like it or not, we all have to negotiate in life and it’s important to refine our skills in order to effectively realize value for our clients and/or ourselves. Some of us have roles that require us to negotiate on a daily basis, and in procurement, negotiation is a crucial part of any sourcing or purchasing process. But, negotiating doesn’t need to have this “evil” stigma attached to it.
Let’s look at what negotiation actually is. In short, a negotiation is a dialogue between two or more parties with a common goal or purpose, with the aim of achieving mutual benefit for all involved. The fact is, though, that most don’t look at negotiating this way. If you’re like me, you dread the day your car finally perishes, in part due to the fact that car buying can be stressful and unpleasant. Why is that? Purchasing a new car should be an exciting and fun experience, but it seldom feels that way when you’re in the middle of a negotiation with the dealership or salesperson. During a training I attended the instructor shared an anecdote about how his father never haggles price when buying a new car, fearing he will be perceived as cheap or greedy. But, the dealership typically expects prospective clients to haggle and negotiate, in fact they build this into their pricing. So when the instructor’s father didn’t negotiate, the dealership was actually pleasantly surprised that they sold a car, to be frank, to a “dupe.”
The moral of this story is that negotiations are more often than not expected and welcomed in certain circles or industries, and for most procurement professionals this is especially true. We as professionals shouldn’t be afraid of perception, like my instructor’s father, when it comes to performing or initiating a negotiation. The other party may already be prepared to negotiate and only set their price to begin any preliminary conversations while still establishing themselves as competitive or a leader (based on their first quote). Moreover, regardless your occupation, negotiation skills are vital and important in everyday life and shouldn’t be ignored even if you don’t negotiate or deal in your current profession.