Wednesday, December 1, 2010

General Business Knowledge

For an individual that’s new to business and wants to negotiate Procurement contracts at some point their career, one of the first things they need to do is start to build their knowledge and skills.

To be a good negotiator you need knowledge and skills in a number of areas.

  1. General business knowledge and skills.
  2. Procurement knowledge and skills
  3. Contracting knowledge and skills
  4. Negotiation knowledge and skills

If I was to hire a junior person there 10 things I would want them to either have or develop that would fall within the category of general knowledge and skills that are needed to negotiate:

  1. General knowledge of how business operates.
  2. Communication: Skills in public speaking, writing, attentive listening, creating charts or diagrams to sell points, interviewing, questioning, running meetings, and persuading others.
  3. Business writing: Forget about all the creative writing classes you’ve taken in school, business communication needs to be brief and to the point. People are deluged with information so tell them what you want and why you want it. Be organized, be brief, be clear, be positive, and write in active voice sentences.
  4. Business Etiquette. You also need to understand basic business etiquette so you know how to act in business. Again there are many books on business etiquette that can be found on or other on-line booksellers. If you will conduct business in other countries learn about the business etiquette of those countries. The last thing you want to do in a negotiation is offend the other side.
  5. Self-Management: Learn how to operate with limited supervision (self motivated), cope with deadlines, interruptions, investigate and solve problems, be thorough,
  6. Administrative and Program Management skills: Learn how to administer programs, organize tasks, plan agendas/meetings, write reports, and check documents for accuracy. Learn how to delegate responsibility and follow through on action. Maintain discipline, perform logical thinking, take personal responsibility, set priorities, and manage work/goals. Exercise common sense.
  7. Critical Thinking and Analysis: imagining new solutions, creating new ideas, evaluating programs, analyzing data, report and summarize information, analyzing problems, recommend course of action, make informed decisions in the scope of your authority. 
  8. Networking: Ability to network with Suppliers, peers, managers, mentors etc. to help you learn and do your job
  9. Math & Basic Accounting. Work with figures in spreadsheets or in your head. Make estimates to understand impact. Know net present value and discounted cash flow analysis. Have a basic understanding of accounting especially if you will be negotiating anything that is based on cost or requires a formula.  That’s because you always want to check cost information or formulas by calculating the impact using real life examples to see the impact and whether it works in all situations.
  10. Internet and Software Programs. Effectively use Internet to communicate, perform research, and know how to use mail, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs. For example, there’s no better way to drive a point home to a Supplier than where they can see it graphically up on a screen to identify the issue or problem