You have been recently assigned to a new deal that can bring significant added value to your company. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity for a new a long-term relationship with the other party. It is a big contract, and it holds a lot of meaning both for internal and external stakeholders, this is your chance to overperform. For many years now, you have been in numerous meeting rooms, pencilling out negotiations, drafting offers and researching negotiation strategies and frameworks to position yourself the best to reaching a successful agreement. As you try to filter through all of this information, then you ask yourself, what is the key negotiation practice or behaviour that will give you the best chance to succeed?
Is it a behaviour that happens before, during or after a negotiation table? It is internal or external? Does it involve other people or is it primarily an individual behaviour?
To explore this question, a Negotiation Roundtable at the United Nations Office of Geneva was organized by Negotiation & Influencing consulting firm Conti Advanced Business Learning (www.cabl.ch). Present at the roundtable were 12 senior Procurement executives from leading multinationals. The discussion was led by CABL founder Giuseppe Conti, who introduced the topic by outlining a set of 22 Key Negotiation Behaviours, these ranged from pre, during and post negotiation behaviours that negotiators execute when tasked with leading a negotiation. Participants were asked to choose the one behaviour that they considered most important.
Understanding interests and priorities of all parties
Putting yourself in the other party’s shoes’ is an adage that holds great power in negotiation, and the majority of executives at the roundtable ranked this behaviour as the most important. It is not only limited to real time usage when at the negotiation table, but also before and after a meeting. Yet as several executives point out, the behaviour not only affects those in the meeting room.
“In terms of preparation, looking internally— aligning with business stakeholders is very important” claims Cecile Cappelletti, Indirect sourcing Lead Europe, Australia & New Zealand of General Mills, “because as with sourcing priorities, they still have to align with your business priorities.”
Stéphane Rosenberg, EU & International Region Lead at Electronic Arts argues that understanding interests and priorities of all parties “is a key element in effective negotiation. It helps switching from an adversarial approach to collaborative approach in finding agreements. I believe it’s how you work to develop close partnerships internally but especially externally.”
It helps switching from an adversarial approach to collaborative approach in finding agreements.
Thierry Jaccon, Head of Supply Management at Skyguide, breaks down the behaviour into components, “if you want to achieve this behaviour, you have to go through all of the other steps. You must understand your demand on the internal side, understand the supply market—the dynamics behind them, how we are strong or weak—and then you look for the other party’s motivations.”
Boi-Lan Lemoine, Strategic Heritage Plan Procurement at the United Nations, confirms the importance of understanding the internal stakeholders. In addition, in a multicultural environment like the UN, it becomes even more important to understand the meaning behind the words.
Giuseppe Conti also added that the benefits of understanding interests and priorities of all parties opens up the negotiations to allow for more creative solutions that ultimately deliver value for all sides.
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
Preparing negotiation in writing
Putting pen to paper may seem like an old school process to follow, especially when there are new digital applications and online platforms that can mimic the practice.
“It allows me to have this effective internal alignment with the stakeholders,” states Zoe Ren, Global Procurement Senior Category Manager Indirect at Ferring, “procurement is the not the decision maker—from the procurement side, you want to achieve cost savings but from the business angle, most of the time, cost savings is not what they are focusing on.”
Daniele Di Natale, Director Sourcing EMEA of Herbalife, stressed that the needs for proper preparation is key, not only for negotiation but for everything else, and by going through the process, “all other behaviours are involved in this, including understanding the needs (internally and externally) and understanding the stakeholders.”
From the procurement side, you want to achieve cost savings but from the business angle, most of the time, cost savings is not what they are focusing on.
Taking time for extensive research ahead of negotiation
When collectively handling many categories, business pressures from multiple sides, delivery deadlines, and disruptive innovations, Giorgio Zagami, Head of Corporate Procurement & Logistics at MSC Cruises S.A, outlines that finding “what you have to source, what you have to look for and which market to scout, extensive research is fundamental for this process”.
Strengthening your alternatives ahead of the negotiation
Assuming that the common practice of preparation is a basic foundation, Jon Hatfield, Director Global Supply Management at PPG, makes a key distinction as to how actively listening plays a paramount role at the negotiation table, “you know what you want, but do you know what the other party wants?”
A key success story was based on the foundations of solid active listening, “finding out where the mutual fit is by listening and probing”.
Special thanks to the participants of the roundtable:
This is part of a 3-part series that investigates Key Negotiation Behaviours in procurement. The next article we analyse the results of a survey that over 109 procurement professionals took regarding their own competencies in these behaviours and how they rank these behaviours based on their importance in negotiation.