Tag Archives: procurement skills

The CPO’s biggest vulnerability – Building and refreshing the team

team

On this day after “Super Tuesday” for the US political race, it’s easy to see that the voting population today is not the same as 4 years ago. Campaigns are scrambling to reach both the younger voter and the older voter (Millennials and Baby Boomers) and the establishment isn’t working. The same is true for businesses: org structures that worked 4 years ago are not working now. In the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 new study, 92% of the top executives surveyed cited organizational design as a top priority and the report highlights the rise of a new “network of teams” org model. I see this in my own practice, especially in procurement and supply chain. For CPOs, leading teams is a real challenge.

To add even more complexity to the team building and refreshing process, ManpowerGroup’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey found 38% of companies are have difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent. No longer can the chief purchasing officer rely on finding individuals who have demonstrated technical and strategic procurement skills. Today, the job requires individuals who are well-rounded and have financial, relationship, influencing, financial, political and collaboration skills. The job no longer requires just the ability to negotiate, communicate and transact. The job now requires architecting the supply chain, integrating suppliers along the chain, quantifying the added value, driving increased levels of performance and building relationships that make their company shine brighter than the competition. Plus, they need to do this as a team. And, Millennials do not expect to work for the same company for decades, so the team must continue to advance as the individual members change.

I worked with a company recently that had 18 people in the procurement department. Of the existing team, 11 people had well over 30 years’ experience in the company and in purchasing. There was no succession plan and new approaches and ideas were limited. For this CPO, bringing in fresh faces was both a do-or-die and a no-win with the existing org structure and culture. It became essential to understand the talent required for generating the kinds of value extraction that will be required from the supply chains in the future and, most importantly, to find ways to foster a collaborative team process.

What’s a CPO to do? Here are five ideas for building and refreshing the procurement team:

  1. Build strong rotational programs so that new hires will rotate through several departments in the organization enhancing their business knowledge, commercial skills and relationships throughout the organization.
  2. Understand the current culture and the desired culture, what works in the current culture, who has the strongest skillsets and who has the weakest (for now and the desired state) and develop a strategy to strengthen the weak links.
  3. Build a strong succession plan for the entire team.
  4. Move more senior team members to different roles to let the newer members develop leadership and other skills.
  5. If you find the right talent, hire that person whether you have the position now or not.

By building and continually refreshing your team, you will assure your longevity as a leader. If you fail to build and refresh your team, you will become victim of the CEO’s plans to build and refresh the team.

Are you ready for the “network of teams” org structure?

How to Achieve Disruptive Training and Development

DeathtoStock_Creative Community9

How effective is your training and development initiative? I have led and participated in training and development initiatives where the results in the classroom are great. The class is motivated, excited about the new tools and concepts, course ratings are high and everyone feels really good. When the class participants return to their work, they may try a few of the new techniques, but soon it’s business as usual. Has this ever happened to you?

Think online learning is the better approach? Businesses can agonize over finding the right online program, roll it out and require that each team member complete the course. The online course system will report on course completion compliance. Unfortunately, most people have busy schedules and cram multiple modules into a short timeframe near the deadline for completion. Some extend the course over a longer time, failing to absorb the concepts because too much time has passed between sessions. The result is the same for both types of course-takers, the learning is not embedded and the new skills are not utilized.

Face it, it’s easy to spend training budget on courses, check the box for the task “deliver training”, then deliver poor to mediocre performance appraisals to employees because there’s little application of new skills in their job. The employee must be the problem, right? Wrong!

What’s the solution? Training supported by active project-based coaching. Here are two examples of disruptive T&D that continues to deliver high performance and results.

Case 1: A global conglomerate needed cost and value improvement by enhancing tactical and strategic procurement skills. While the initial overall program components are not unusual—HR, procurement team and internal corporate university works with outside firm to roll-out competency assessment, online learning and instructor-led classroom training—it’s the implementation of a requirement to complete an action plan for an expenditure category in their portfolio over the 6 months following the classroom with coaching/mentoring available by the course instructors and the individual’s supervisor during this time. Actions plans had to be approved by the instructor and the supervisor.

The results were astounding! The documented return on investment from the training delivered $40 for every $1 invested in the program. Besides the $millions in savings and the value from innovation and other improvement, the learning was embedded and skillsets enhanced.

Case 2: A medium-sized company with 4 divisions was unable to get collaboration, leverage and synergy. The project focused on small category teams comprised of members from each business unit. A four-day workshop was delivered, during which tools and concepts were introduced, the teams selected projects, identified opportunities, built initial strategies and presented them to senior management. After the workshop, the teams launched with weekly conference calls with mentoring and coaching. The teams presented monthly updates to senior management. At the end of the 6 months, the supply base was optimized and $64 million in cost and value improvements were achieved.

Most companies are reluctant to engage in programs like these because of complexity and the additional cost of engaging an instructor or coach for longer than a 2-day course delivery. The right training provider can manage the complexity and offer a coaching program on a per person or monthly fee option that works for your budget and delivers the breakthrough you need.

5 Ways to Embed Learning

  1. Establish course completion timelines for online courses: use an outsourced provider to work with individuals, chart progress and report status
  2. Require a pre-requisite online course before delivery of a classroom course or workshop to orient participants so class time learning is optimized
  3. Include a work project in the training
    1. Alert the participants ahead of the training
    2. Allow class time to get the project started
  4. Provide coaching and mentoring post training by the training provider, internal resource or both.
  5. Launch category management teams with
    1. Kick-off workshop
    2. Weekly coaching
    3. Project management

Ready to disrupt your training initiatives?

Are you sabotaging your procurement or supply chain career?

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As a consultant, I get to observe procurement and supply chain professionals in almost every situation. It is always rewarding to see bright stars move through their organizations to the C-Suite. On the other hand, it is tragic to see bright stars burn out and get stuck on their career path. You may wonder, what’s the difference between success and failure in people with similar ambitions and skill sets?

In my career, I had several strong, ethical mentors who disciplined me in critical soft skills that make the difference between success and failure. Technology changes, digital disruption, social media and email are all changing the way we do business, but successful businesses have the best people who communicate and collaborate effectively.

Here are a few soft skills that can take you far:

  1. Business etiquette is one of the essential skills that shows that you are thoughtful, polite, professional, engaged and and respectful person. How you treat people says a lot about you. Do you take the time to send a thank you note? If you’re visiting suppliers or meeting new business partners take the time to write a note. You will create a great impression of you and your company.
  2. Always learn names and learn them quickly. This immediately shows interest and respect in the new people you meet. There are a lot of techniques for learning names and they will help you gain this skill
  3. Don’t make value judgments on people’s importance in the workplace. People deserve respect and others in your firm will be observing your behavior and will ultimately judge you. It is critical that you build strong relationships and self assess how you might be viewed.
  4. Be careful about your personal life. What you put on social media and what you share can come back to reflect on you in the future when being considered for promotion or elimination.
  5. Communication is a core skill. It’s sometimes not what you say, but how you say it that counts! Always return phone calls and emails promptly. You should make it a practice to promptly return all calls within 24 hours. Personalize your voicemail greeting so the caller doesn’t just get a cold system generic voice with a number.
  6. When writing emails, be sure they are professional and courteous with a bit of humanity so they are not seen as cold and manipulative. Make sure that the communication you send is grammatically correct with no spelling errors. Judith Kallos has an excellent resource on her business communication website.
  7. Just because you have a mobile phone number doesn’t mean you should text without asking permission. Even with permission, be respectful of the time of day you’re texting.
  8. There are few things that irk me more than someone arriving late to meetings or scheduling a meeting with no agenda, resulting in unprepared attendees and wasting time. Always be prepared, have an agenda and have a professional presence.
  9. Create the right image with your work space. Keep the space professional and neat with appropriate personal touches. Those who see the space consider it a reflection of you. Always respect the space of others. Even in casual business cultures, it is very important to dress for success. You may stand out, but in an impressive way.

Every procurement and supply chain professional with a desire to advance and make a great impression should take inventory of these skills. These skills are common sense, but at times we all need to review the skills, make adjustments and control the way we are perceived.

The things your mother taught you can serve you well.

 

photo: Olu Eletu

 

Leading Procurement and Supply Chain Transformational Change – Do you have the right stuff?

astronaut photo: NASA

Never content with status quo, companies that excel want to be the very best. They constantly drive continuous improvement, yet many procurement and supply chain professionals lack the confidence and capability to assess, build a business case for change and manage change across the business. How can companies and individuals get “the right stuff” to get to best in class?

The process starts at the assessment of the current state of the organization. Typically, it reveals an inefficient organizational alignment, gaps in the processes, competency issues in the team and systems which may or may not support the procurement and supply chain mission. I have seen leaders shy away from and resist change, while defending the current ways of doing business. Over time, the resistors of change are displaced by more progressive individuals. Those who stand before the management highlighting the issues and delivering a plan for change always accelerate their careers in the business.

Early in my career I worked with a purchasing leader that attended a seminar at Penn State. He approached the CEO and Chairman of the company, detailed that his team was tactical and influenced the senior management team to let him to build a change program. The change was painful and difficult, but resulted in over 40 million dollars in savings, streamlined the organization structure and the company achieved a leadership position in their sector. He moved on to different positions in the company, eventually ending up as CEO of one of the major divisions.

What made this individual a success? He created the assessment of the current state of the business by looking at the core competencies required to be successful in the food business and measuring the gap to achieve the best organization, processes and people to reach world class in his industry. He looked at benchmarks with the understanding that they are merely data points. To make benchmarking successful, one must understand both the process implemented to achieve them and the business cultural adjustments required to make them work. Too many times, the focus is on the size of the gap, which can cause some to think “we can never get there.” The focus should be on taking the first step, then the momentum to keep the team moving. Whether it’s a meter or a marathon, some will run, some will walk and some will do both to reach the finish line, so a plan should be developed that considers the company culture and the speed that the team can practically achieve.

Once the change model is identified and a plan developed, it is only the beginning and once started, it is ever evolving. There are lots of drivers of change, like:

  • Technology
  • Economy
  • Competition
  • Innovation
  • Profitability
  • Industry consolidation

It’s important that procurement and supply chain team members understand that each of them has an important role in how these drivers impact the business and in making the changes needed for the business to succeed. For example, similar to, but broader than technology, product and service innovation occurs faster and faster, often making the ‘shelf life’ of current products shorter and shorter. Innovation in new product ideas, product packaging, integrated supply chain operations and distribution channels, customer service, and marketing are all examples of areas that can be market-changing for a business. Clearly suppliers can provide many of these innovations, if managed properly. The procurement and supply chain team is in the middle of the action.

What skills are needed for transformational change? One of the core skills of a leader is the ability to influence. The ability to evaluate your organization, develop a solution and build a business case to get the business to invest are critical skills of leadership.

Since change impacts every aspect of the organization, the change process really needs a good business case including all cost, risks and the measurable return that the company will see at the end of the process. The implications should be clear that the organization will be changed (reflecting the global, regional and local requirements of the business) to simplify the supply chain and increase velocity, flexibility, value and customer needs. As a result of the change, people will need development (some may no longer fit in the business) and processes will surely change.

Its always best to establish a management steering committee to remove roadblocks and select a project leader and a cross business/cross functional team to build stakeholder awareness and engage them. Build Change Champions and willing helpers to support the transformation and have a plan for the opponent and cynic who may work to disrupt the change.

There are many reasons change initiatives fail. Usually, failure is the result of:

  • Lack of management buy-in and commitment
  • Lack of leadership
  • Lack of focus and commitment
  • Resistant too hard to over come
  • Lack of knowledge
  • No process
  • No strategy

Procurement and supply chain transformation is exciting and can create competitive advantage for your company. It takes leadership, focus, influence, management commitment. It is a big task, but those with the confidence and capability will accelerate their careers.

Do you have the right stuff?

Why Supply Chain and Procurement Leadership Matters

bubble

No longer can procurement and supply chain pros live in a functional bubble and survive. Although some mid-tier and small companies still act functionally, they’re becoming extinct. Today’s business requirements to drive value delivery, speed to market, spend under control and increased supply chain velocity requires cross-functional and cross-business mastery along with technical, influencing and political skills.

In the interesting McKinsey Quarterly article Decoding Leadership by Claudio Fesser, Fernanada Mayol and Ramesh Srinivassen, the behavior that organizations should encourage and develop in their teams is discussed. When we think about developing our teams for leadership, what are the priorities? Do they include influencing, decision making, problem solving and adapting?

The McKinsey authors identify four behaviors that account for 80% of leadership effectiveness:

  1. Be supportive
  2. Operate with strong results orientation
  3. Seek different perspectives
  4. Solve Problems effectively

As I think about the procurement and supply chain, there are a few additional behaviors that should be developed for a high performing team:

  1. Learn and understand all aspects of the business
  2. Develop a speak for management accounting
  3. Champion change
  4. Develop a clear vision and share your mission
  5. Foster mutual respect
  6. Champion organization values

Many of organizational development programs are based on technical skills only. As I approach a new year and develop new training initiatives, I plan to work with company leaders to expand development programs to incorporate core behaviors for leadership. Many organizations realize that leadership drives performance, but leadership is too often considered a soft skill. Everyone involved in procurement and supply chain needs to consider a leadership program for high potentials. First quartile leading companies do!

Don’t rely on experience to create leaders.

 

Photo credit: Sebastian Pichler

What the Holidays Can Teach You About Supplier Relationships

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This time of year we focus on relationships. Often it’s thinking of how to get through the holidays without a disagreement with a certain family member or how to manage time with your family and your spouse’s without damaging relationships. In either case, if feathers are ruffled, you’re more likely to try to repair the relationship than to replace it.

It seems we’ve become a replacement society. It’s more likely the appliance repair person will replace a board rather than repair it. Last week, when a Windows 10 update failed and a laptop would not boot, the Microsoft support recommendation was to reset the PC back to its factory settings, wiping out all files, then reinstall (replace) Windows 10 and all programs and files. Since my wife is technical and actually seemed to know more than the Microsoft support person, she stepped in, formatted a USB drive, booted to bios, dusted off her old DOS capability to issue a string of commands, repaired the defective system files and the computer started normally with all files intact. It took time and effort, but the result of being able to repair the operating system rather than replace all files was well worth it. She will lecture on back-ups, but that’s another story…

The replace mindset carries over to buyer/supplier relationships, too. In many of the industries I work in, I am sad to see that there is less and less reliance on relationships, even though they are at the very core of business success and failure. Many buyers develop a “what have you done for me lately” attitude, believing that the grass is greener in the next pasture. Nothing can be further from the truth. The reality is that the existing supplier has tribal knowledge about your business, the cost to switch suppliers is relatively high, but this is rarely calculated in cost savings projections in the “switch suppliers” business case. The learning curve is long and the investment to onboard a new supplier is often not a consideration in sourcing decisions.

If results aren’t what is expected, should you repair or replace a supplier relationship? The answer depends on the response to these questions:

  1. What is the total cost of the change?
  2. How will you develop and manage a new supplier to increase value delivery?

In many cases there is no supplier relationship plan and the relationship drifts along until the company is ready to replace the relationship again. Repairing relationships and extracting maximum value takes hard work; if you put in the work and build the process, existing suppliers can increase value delivery. It’s an easy solution to replace, but a better value to repair relationships.

I wish everyone a happy holiday and safe new year. I am thankful for the relationships have in business and appreciate those clients and business relationships that made Aripart Consulting successful in its first year.

Take a little time to repair the next time you’re tempted to replace.

Why Supply Chain Skills Assessment Fails and Total Competency Assessment Succeeds

test

When reviewing the current state of purchasing and supply chain in organizations, I am amazed at the talent and the core skills that are lacking. In many cases the companies have segmented procurement and supply chain jobs in a finite way so that the individuals on the team only know their functional activities. Over time this functional focus results in many people showing a lack of curiosity or interest in their career. To reach business goals, organizations need a curious, motivated team with the functional skills as well as business acumen. Like reading skills, just because you can read all of the words doesn’t mean you can comprehend the meaning and understand the paragraph’s importance to the story.

In my experience, I’ve learned that true competency assessment requires a way to determine if individuals have the desired thinking, practices and behavioral skills the organization needs. These are hard to evaluate in a standard skillset gap analysis or personality profile. While standard competency assessments are great at determining functional skillset gaps and personality profiling and emotional quotients can help build a team that can work together, both fall short of determining how well a person is able to use those skills to develop actionable strategies based on knowledge, experience, process, rational competency, business acumen and execution capability.

Competent procurement and supply chain practitioners must have a natural curiosity, personal drive, interest in how the business works and an understanding of the end-to-end process that they are involved in as well as the technical skills for the role. If individuals are content in a limited, functional, tactical role without the understanding of the processes, business acumen, and relationship capabilities, it is likely they’ll not add value to the business in the long term.

When a business has launched a major initiative to transform procurement and supply chain, often the senior executive team is unwilling to invest time, money and energy in developing the team to reach the new desired levels of performance. While some people in the organization will not meet the new requirements, others will with minimal support and development. To determine who has potential, I recommend a conducting assessment centers. The assessment center process consists of a two-day evaluation of individuals and teams. It determines the presence and application of problem solving skills, technical knowledge, business knowledge, relationship building skills, initiative and influencing skills. Participants are giving a series of case studies that require solving custom designed business cases. This process is very successful in succession planning and identification of high potential employees.

Assessment centers provide a total competency profile, but for successful implementation of a program, organizations must build an action plan for the way forward. Without a development strategy, the value drain is significant over time and the potential of skilled individuals is under optimized.

Assessing competency is critical for any organization.

Does your organization rely on functional tests?

5 Questions to Ask When Building an Integrated Business Plan

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How to achieve success for your company and yourself

When I review the current state of procurement and supply chain at companies, I always look for three-year plan at a category and business level. I am curious to learn the vision for the future and how strategies are being executed to achieve the vision. It is extremely unfortunate that many procurement and supply chain team members can’t articulate the plan. I also want to learn just how the organization will be structured to meet future business needs, what is the current capability and competence, where the talent will be acquired that is needed in the future and how the supply base and supply chain will be restructured. In many cases, there is no formal plan, vision nor linkage to the business plan and no alignment across the business.

When asked why strategic plans aren’t available, these are always the justifications:

  • Now more than ever before, there is pressure for quick financial results leaving limited time to plan.
  • It is impossible to predict demand and customer preferences and supply chains are complex.
  • Input costs are volatile and difficult to control and costs and volume are no longer linear, so financial implications of a business plan are difficult to forecast.

A hot topic in business today is integrated business planning (IBP), which is all about harmonizing strategy and execution in financial and operational plans. The key thing about IBP is that the departments are no longer planning as discrete silos. The supply chain remains the heart of the process. Think of IBP as moving Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) from the backroom to the boardroom.

To help create a mindset to begin the IBP process, review what happens without a strategic plan. Lack of planning drives organizations into tactical approaches, creating a reactive culture rather than proactive strategy to anticipate and manage the volatility in today’s market. This tactical firefighting opens the door for competitors to gain advantage in the marketplace.

When I am evaluating procurement and supply chain capability in organizations, I am always expecting to see a plan indicating the direction they are headed. Will they be rationalizing the supply base? Will the company be moving into strategic alignment with suppliers or remain in competitive leverage? Will they be rationalizing and optimizing inventories and distribution? To answer these questions, it takes vision, leadership and internal collaboration to build an effective strategic IBP.

To drive IBP from supply chain management, five questions to ask are:

  1. What is the vision of the future in terms of short term, medium term and longer term horizon?
  2. Where will the supply chain expand/contract, where should we integrate and align with suppliers?
  3. How can we optimize warehouses, distribution, logistics, procurement and operations?
  4. How can we break down internal organization silos and drive the plan to maximize performance?
  5. How can you increase the agility, flexibility and value in the supply chain?

Is your career and business limited by lack of a strategic IBP?

5 Key Considerations for Developing Procurement and Supply Chain Teams

Great-teams

Back to the Future: what does your team need in 2020?

I was speaking to an old friend about how the development of procurement teams has changed in the past 5 years. I found the conversation interesting and inspiring as he and I challenged the wisdom of traditional programs. No longer can companies be satisfied with traditional programs focusing on tactical and strategic functional skills. In recent years much has been accomplished in both the Procurement and Supply Chain profession; costs have been reduced, inventories optimized, logistics closely managed and there’s a renewed focus on supply chain alignment and integration. Lifecycles are shorter causing velocity and flexibility to be key drivers of supply chain and procurement success. So what type of skills development do our teams need now?

As we look to the next five years, we will need to design development programs that are enable companies to extract value, get innovation, improve speed to market and gain supplier to customer alignment across the entire supply chain. This will involve business integration, transparency and relationships that go far beyond what we have today. Once these new skills are embedded, synergy and interdependence will drive the supplier/customer interactions as we quickly respond to customer and market demands.

Since competency assessment models are being developed for the skill sets needed for today’s supply chain professionals, they will be inadequate as the supply chain continues to evolve unless future skills are included. Standard training programs where everyone goes through fixed, common training modules and development programs designed for functional competence will not accomplish what organizations need. It is essential that learning and development professionals and providers realign programs to move from a functional orientation to a business and relational skill-based approach.

It is true that procurement and supply chain teams still need technical and commercial skills. In fact, a few hours ago a Bloomberg news story got my attention that commodities are crashing like it’s 2008 again. To be competitive in the next five years, especially when faced with situations like commodity fluctuations wreaking havoc on your financial supply chain, these core skills must also be developed:

1) Influence

Organizations have changed from the command and control management model to a matrix organization structure. The interaction between business units, conflicting priorities, business drivers, budget holders and stakeholders has driven the need to develop our teams in influencing skills. The new opportunity to tailor processes, develop high-performing business teams and deliver increased levels of value depend on our ability to influence others.

2) Leadership Skills

The supply chain and procurement teams have a big role in the value contribution to their respective businesses. It is essential that we identify the right people in our organizations through succession planning, then provide leadership rotational programs, development programs and interesting projects to prepare them for their eventual role as company leaders. Companies need multi-generational leadership, combining experience and new digital thinking, for optimal results.

3) Relationship skills

It’s often difficult to understand that relationship skills are not innate. To ensure competitiveness, value extraction, alignment and trust across the supply chain, it would be wise to develop our teams in strategic relationship skills. The ability to be analytical, trustworthy, create options and operate with a principled approach is a learned skill. People operating in a tactical mode will no longer fit as the profession evolves. Since face to face communication is becoming antiquated in a fast paced environment where e-mail and text messaging becomes more the norm, written and verbal skills are more important than any other time in the history of the profession. Both internal and external company relationships will determine whether company goals are met or not.

4) Onboarding

While we are bringing in talent when we find it, it is essential to continually assimilate new employees with the company mission, vision, processes and culture. These development programs require orientation and integration of new employees so they can quickly integrate and use their talent, thus making contributions as soon as possible.

5) Learning

Developing supply chain and procurement professionals for the future is not business as usual. Much attention must be given to the soft skills of business when there are dramatic shifts in supply chain. Learning will continue to be an ongoing process as we advance with our technology, industry consolidation and innovation.

I am glad that my old friend asked me to provide one nugget of my learning and development philosophy. It made me think hard about moving to the future now. I am invigorated to provide the tools of the future now!

What skills are you developing?

Getting to NO! – 10 Tips to Improve Tactical Negotiation

getting to no

I have always thought that “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury was one of the best negotiation books ever written. For my business clients (and in my personal life) I add “getting to no” as a technique for tactical negotiation.

One of the most interesting things about Americans is in many cases they’re reluctant to ask for what they want. Whether it’s fear of the other party saying no, worry that they’ll be seem unreasonable or fear of embarrassment, it’s enough to minimize their expectations and sub-optimize any opportunity they may have for improving the deal. Not only should supply managers ask questions, they should set and maintain high aspirations.

A few months ago, I worked in a small food manufacturing company on a project to significantly reduce cost and increase value. A cross-functional team quickly learned that by preparing, understanding the markets, their suppliers and asking enough questions, they were able to build the arguments to support cost and value improvements. By planning to ask questions until they “got to no”, they were able to determine the best opportunities without disturbing the supplier relationship. The result of planned “getting to no” was reduced product cost by 7% with a minimum of resistance in just three months. The savings dropped to the bottom line, which greatly enhanced the company’s profitability. They were amazed by what “just asking” for additional value until there was no more to be gained delivered to their business. All of the parties left the negotiations feeling satisfied with the deal.

Ten Key Tips for Tactical Negotiations

  1. Open the negotiation with high aspirations and maintain your demands throughout the negotiation.
  2. Remember that both parties are at the negotiation table to make a deal.
  3. Always enter a negotiation with research, a plan and a controlled argument from the first contact.
  4. Create multiple options to present to stop the negotiation from getting bogged down.
  5. Use your ability to influence and persuade and switch up methods of persuasion.
  6. Months before the negotiation, manage the other party’s expectations through a series of expectation management messages and events.
  7. Stick to your demands and give few, small concessions.
    Always calculate the cost or value of each concession and build a concession-trading list (if you do this, then I’ll …).
  8. Keep the negotiation focused on key issues, putting minor issues on the back burner.
  9. Don’t just hear or anticipate what you will say next, actively listen and use questions to probe and gather data.
  10. Never respond to pressure and keep pressing for all the cost and value opportunities you can get.

By using these tips, you can dramatically improve your tactical negotiations. While you will still be getting to yes, you will also leave confident that you did not leave anything on the table. Remember, these techniques are for TACTICAL negotiations which occur when you have many suppliers to choose from, there’s a competitive market and a lot of money and value are at stake. For strategic negotiations, you’ll require a more principled approach, which is a topic for another time.

Good luck and don’t forget there is no opportunity for success if you haven’t made the appropriate preparation and plan. If you are working with a team, brief the team, establish roles and practice. While many of us manage very busy schedules, prep in this area has a high return on investment.

Are you afraid of “getting to no?”