The Negotiations Agenda Part 2

Hello again,

Last week I emailed you a negotiating tip that many people overlook.  That tip is preparing an agenda to use when you are negotiating with a supplier. I would like to give you some follow up pointers that will add to the effectiveness of the agenda.

But before I do – let me apologize for problems you may have had clicking on the sample Agenda that was supposed to be with the initial “Negotiating Agenda” email. We followed up and sent a sample agenda to everyone.

Some of you have inquired about my use of the term “potential supplier” in the agenda. Let me emphasize that the term “potential supplier” is intentional. This terminology can have a disarming effect, particularly if the supplier believes that it is the sole source being considered. You just gained a lot of negotiating power!

You also need to set Ground Rules prior to your meeting and as a part of using an agenda effectively. Ground Rules allow your lead negotiator to explain that your company is ready and willing to do business and, indeed, to execute a contract.  But if agreement cannot be reached to your satisfaction, the next “potential supplier” will be called in immediately.

The Agenda and Ground Rules emphasize that negotiations may be broken off at any time if certain supplier concessions are not forthcoming. At the same time, the Agenda serves as a constant reminder that finalizing the deal is possible if certain listed points can be resolved. In practice, it is this combination of the “carrot and stick” that makes the Agenda a significant tool to gain some leverage.

Going further, the Agenda requires the supplier to present its “deliverables.” The supplier is then asked to place all of these “deliverables” in the contract. If the supplier refuses to do so at that point, it will be in the awkward position of backing off from its earlier representations. This would be obviously a strong message to you about their character and true commitment! Then conduct yourself accordingly!

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Joe Auer

ICN has been in the business of helping technology users do better and safer deals with vendors for more than forty two years.