The 7 Habits of Highly ORDINARY Negotiators – HABIT #4

by Omid Ghamami

The 7 Habits of Highly ORDINARY Negotiators – HABIT #4

Relies on dated negotiation techniques to “get the upper hand” and to “get an unfair advantage”


Gaining an Unfair Advantage in Negotiations - Is That What its Really All About?

Gaining an Unfair Advantage in Negotiations – Is That What its Really All About?

This 4th posting in this blog series entitled “7 Habits of Highly ORDINARY Negotiators” is focused on “Relies on dated negotiation techniques in an effort to “get the upper hand” and to “get an unfair advantage.”

I’ve been reading and hearing about these techniques for 3 decades now.  That in itself should tell you enough.  It’s worse than that though.  They were literally popularized in the 1950’s.

I won’t get into any more detail than that about their origin, but I will say that they were probably appropriate back then – around the time Eisenhower was adjusting to his new role as US president.

I still remember being taught all of these tactics and counter-tactics by highly paid consultants years ago.  Puppy in the window.  Using silence to make them uncomfortable.  The Columbo strategy to make them look like Captain Obvious.   Using time zones to your advantage.  There’s more..

Pretending to not have final authority. Claiming to have final authority.   Pretending to be empathetic.  Knowing when to act confused. Making veiled threats to escalate.  Becoming angry at just the right time.  Calling a break to make “a critical management phone call”,  Playing “good cop, bad cop” roles.  Not responding to proposals to make them sweat.  On and on.

Really?  Is this the best we can muster after decades of work to achieve C-Suite recognition inside our companies, to be and be recognized as a Value Added Center of Profit?

Have you been taught these things?  Is this really how you want to make your mark in this field?  Do you want to achieve your successes burning bridges instead of building them?   Go get a mirror. If you are using these strategies, then you are an ORDINARY negotiator.

Just think about it.  How in the world can a supply chain be predicated on each link trying to use tactics and counter-tactics with their immediate supply-side links to get an unfair advantage and the upper hand?  What kind of dysfunctional supply chain would that be?  Maybe if you’re selling used cars it would work, but in global supply chains?  I don’t think so.

But you’re better than that, and I know that for a fact, because I work with hundreds of companies around the world, every year, filled with competent, capable procurement professionals like you.   I want you to move onto 21st century negotiation strategies.

If you want career success in the corporate world, you need to know how to INFLUENCE – which is definitely NOT about using just the right tactics and counter tactics at just the right time at the negotiation table.  In fact, I don’t care much what you do at the negotiation table, I care about what you did before you ever entered the room to prepare.

And If you work for a big company, then look out, because you might just get your way every time and convince yourself you are a great negotiator and a great influencer, when in fact it’s very likely that it is all the money your company spending that is getting the incredible negotiation results for you.

Go work for a small company and see if your negotiation skills still work.  That’s the only way to find out.

But that’s rash.  Don’t change companies, change the DNA of how you negotiate.  That’s what the best in the business do.

What I What you want to be is a negotiator that uses INFLUENCE to achieve your objectives.  And this means that you must put your vanity mirror away and focus on deeply understanding not only the supplier’s positions (which are obvious – they are on the quote), but more importantly, understanding the supplier’s INTERESTS.

Once you start focusing on the other party’s interests, you will get into a whole new world in negotiations.  You will break down barriers and make them feel good about your intentions, because for the first time, they are working with someone in purchasing who is not engaging in opportunistic and self-serving behavior.

What also happens when you start to discover the supplier’s underlying interests is that they are often times not tied to price!  That means you can create and uncover ways to make the supplier successful, such that they think it’s a great deal to agree to pricing and terms that they never would have otherwise.

You can also make the pie bigger this way, and create more pies, because you are negotiating not only what’s on the table, but also what’s not on the table – that’s what the best negotiators do.  And of course, a seasoned negotiator will only make such concessions in return for movements on supplier positions that improve the purchasing professionals TCO value proposition.

I have so many client success stories I can share that blow away what the most seasoned negotiator can achieve just by hammering on price.

Read this twice:   Suppliers will eagerly collaborate with you when use influence and investigative strategies to create value for both parties.  However, supply chain partners *will not* collaborate with you to help you get an unfair advantage.  And if you leverage strategies to get “the upper hand”, you will win short term, but they WILL get their money back post-contract.  All suppliers know how to do that.

When a supplier feels used, every time you call and need something, if they answer the phone, you’ll get a bill for whatever it is you need, because you will have told them loud and clear with your behavior in negotiations that your relationship with them is purely opportunistic.  And that’s how they will roll.

Why shouldn’t they? You paved the way and they followed.  Remember the expression “a dog looks like its owner?”  That applies here too.  Suppliers will do exactly what you do.

Be world class.  Dump opportunistic negotiation models.  Rid yourself of authoritative techniques, especially if you work for a big company that can throw its weight around.  Flush your list of tactics and counter tactics down the toilet. All of them.

Leverage intrinsic motivation techniques in negotiations.  Understand interests instead of positions.  Be an investigative negotiator.

Don’t try to make a small pie all yours, make the pie bigger and find areas for the supplier to win – through understanding their interests instead of their positions, and looking for concessions that cost you little, but gives them great value.  Only ordinary negotiators do otherwise.

Our profession has worked too hard for us to be anything but world class.  We need to be and be perceived as a value added center of corporate profitability and supply chain advantage.    Step up to world class now – anything else is a disservice to your career and reputation.   This is the easiest profession to become a rock star in.

Be your best!

Omid G

“THE Godfather of Negotiation Planning” ~ Intel Corp

P.S.  You must have noticed that my world class CPSCM (Certified Purchasing and Supply Chain Manager) Certification Program has got program graduates in 5 continents now.  Fortune 500 companies have taken notice and the best in the world are signing up.  Some companies have gotten their entire department signed up.  It’s 30 hours of fast paced (equivalent to 90 hours classroom time) online, on-demand training, where you see the materials and hear my voice throughout.  The exams are all online and you get certified on your terms.  Never buy books and drive to testing centers for certification again.  And I have a game changing announcement that you WON’T WANT TO MISS about the CPSCM™ Certification Program – it’s going to rock this profession.

I have a 1 hour free training video for you in my website below as well.  Check out the most advanced PSCM Certification Program in the world for yourself!

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