With the media full of reported bullying incidents in politics, schools, on sports teams, and in the work place, why do so many sales professionals put up with these similar tactics demonstrated by procurement? Some bullying experiences are subtle while some are more outrageous than others – downright kamikaze! Negotiating Backbone is imperative for today's sellers.
But why is it occurring at all? Because it usually works in terms of delivering a windfall for the purchasing organization! Furthermore, procurement is incented on this windfall. Many suppliers regularly give in to this tactic out of desperation – fear of losing the business. Others just want to stay on the good side of everyone in the customer account.
Procurement is not your friend, so it is wise not to consider them as one.
From a psychological perspective, sales professionals typically have strong self-confidence, an admirable resilience, and believe in what they are selling. Is this really enough today? Probably not sufficient to effectively deal with procurement.
Remaining confident and calm in the face of tough negotiations requires the seller to:
- Remember that you are invited to the table because either you have something the customer wants or they want to use you to drive down prices with someone else
- Get smart to recognize the games being played
- Anticipate and prepare for their possible negotiating tactics in advance
- Assess your competitive position at the table and develop your strategy and tactics accordingly
- Evaluate those customer stakeholders, particularly the decision maker, involved and identify:
- Who is playing what role?
- What is important to each person?
- What is the priority of importance?
- Gaps that should be red flags, indicating more preparation is needed!
- Weigh those surprises and determine whether it is best to play, delay, or walk away
- Rehearse with your partners and predetermine your limits and tradeoffs, based on your requirements, rather than resort to desperation in the heat of the moment
Bottom line, don’t allow disrespectful bullying – defend with clarity and confidence your differentiated value in terms of the quantifiable results delivered.