In the third article of the series Key Negotiation Behaviours of procurement professionals (see: article 1, article 2), we discuss the results of the procurement survey of 109 respondents organised by Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch, a company that specialises in Negotiation and Influencing). Only those with over 5 years of Procurement experience were recorded in the survey where they were asked to rate their own competencies out of the 22 Key Negotiation Behaviours. A roundtable discussion involving 12 procurement executives then reflected on these results, leading to a dialog on the key takeaways from the survey results.
Results of the survey:
Highest Scoring Competencies
- Aligning with stakeholders and negotiation team members
- Creating a climate of trust
- Strengthening your alternatives ahead of the negotiation
- Understanding interests and priorities of all parties
- Listening actively
Lowest Scoring Competencies
- Making a post-negotiation assessment
- Preparing negotiation in writing
- Formulating effective questions
- Setting high aspirations
- Ensuring the satisfaction of the other party
Trust is the word
Across the roundtable of procurement executives, there was a curiosity as to how ‘creating a climate of trust’ scored so high as a competency. Giving an honest assessment of the result, Giuseppe Conti, founder of Conti Advanced Business Learning, ignited discussions by rhetorically asking the question coming from the supplier’s point of view, “If we ask suppliers the question ‘do procurement people create a climate of trust’, would this come up as one of their top skills?”
Bérénice Bessière, Director, Procurement and Travel Division Private and Public Organizations at WIPO, analysed the competency’s ranking through the relationship of the supplier, “It depends on what quadrant of negotiation you are negotiating in. If you are negotiating with a supplier that is a strategic partner, then you indeed have a very high interest in creating a climate of trust but if you are in the different quadrant, dealing with a commodity for example, we only are bidding with price and trust is not crucial as you can go to another supplier.” On the other side, as indicated also by Thierry Jaccon, Head of Supply Management at Skyguide, “Building trust is a key requirement in supply management, in particular because you want the service or products to be delivered. Then, depending on a number of factors, such as risk and market conditions, we may want to put more or less focus on managing each relationship.”
We often take the view that when we are preparing for a negotiation, we are going face-to-face with another group of negotiators, while that is true to the most part, Alvin Williams, VP Indirect Procurement at Firmenich, demonstrated that trust is something that includes the companies themselves. “Sometimes negotiations and creating a climate of trust is between entities and not individuals…It is whether you trust that company that has a long-term view or that has a short-term view.”
Interested in Negotiation?
You may want to join one of Giuseppe’s forthcoming workshops:
- Advanced Negotiation: Overcoming Tough Procurement Challenges, 23-24 January 2019, Geneva, CH: featuring senior guest speakers Alessandro De Luca– CIO – Merck Healthcare, Regina Roos– VP & Sales Segment Leader Mineral and Mining – Schneider Electric, Paul André– Director Reduced Risk Commercial Supply– JTI, and Thierry Blomet Senior VP, Global Sourcing and Procurement – Kemira.
- Webinar: Managing Internal & External Negotiations, 1 February, 2019.
- Masterclass: Influence and Persuasion with Oxford Academic Director Owen Darbishire, 26-27 June, 2019, Geneva, CH
- Masterclass: Strategic Negotiations with Harvard Prof. Francesca Gino, 19-20 November, 2019, Geneva, CH
Let’s be realistic!
In the day and age where we need to be at several places at once, prepare quarterly reports and manage teams, it can be unrealistic to expect some of these behaviours to score highly. Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management at PPG, is not surprised by this, “on making a post-negotiation assessment, everyone has a very large portfolios, everyone is really busy, flying from meeting to meeting”. Ultimately, the ideal case is that “take an hour to sit down and digest the following information: what did we hear, what do we do, what can we do next”.
Cecile Cappelletti, Indirect sourcing Lead Europe, Australia & New Zealand of General Mills focused on the low score of a fundamental behaviour that is paramount to a healthy negotiation, “I am not surprised to see formulating effective questions at the bottom, because in general, people think they should have an opinion, and in turn, that they should voice it.” The lack of understanding and value in this behaviour is a takeaway from this exercise as “asking good questions can be as powerful or even more to get the conversation going.”
If we refer to the previous article and the top 5 scores of the importance of the Key Negotiation Behaviours, Laurent Gouraud, Head of Purchasing at Bobst, observed some similarities and suggested we have a bias, “given the top 5 scores of the importance behaviours are very similar to the top 5 in competencies, it seems people think what is important is what they are better at, or vice versa.”
Take a break!
Perhaps the best thing to do in any situation is to take a break and re-evaluate the situation. As Stéphane Rosenberg, EU & International Region Lead at Electronic Arts, “during the negotiation process, sometimes taking a break, realigning with stakeholders, re-evaluating our options and our understanding of the party’s interests and priorities is a really great step in the process and can be very helpful in negotiations.
Special thanks to the participants of the roundtable:
This is part of the series of roundtable discussions that investigate the Key Negotiation Behaviours in procurement. The next article we analyse the results of a survey that over 109 procurement professionals took regarding the gap between the importance of these behaviours and the respondents competencies in them.