Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Negotiator Attitude

I was once asked to help train an individual who wanted to change careers from the Human Resources field to Procurement. I started by giving him the most basic advice that every person should have, especially negotiators. Suppliers and people in general don’t walk around giving you things. If you want something you need to ask for it.  The second part of the advice was “It costs you nothing to ask and the worst they can say is no.”

Many times people are too polite or too hung up thinking about what they feel could happen; how they would be perceived; or how other person would respond.  If you want to be a negotiator, you need to get by those hang-ups and make sure that you ask for what you need and want. Sure the Supplier may say no the first time. As a negotiator its your job to convince them why no isn’t the answer if they want the business.  

This advice is the basis why hagglers are frequently successful in their purchases. They ask and it doesn’t bother them that they get a no because there will be times when they do get a yes or when it opens the door to a negotiation where they can be successful.

I talked to John (the trainee) recently.  He was doing fine and after losing his wife several years ago was in a new relationship. He explained how the new relationship came about.  He had known a local woman that he liked and wanted to ask out. He reminded me that  I told him as part of that training years ago: “It costs you nothing to ask and the worst they can say is no”.  So he asked her out. She said no, but she did offer introduce him to a friend that she thought would be a good match. He went out with the friend and that’s how the relationship started. If he didn’t ask, he never would have been introduced to the other woman. The woman he initially asked also probably would never have thought of introducing him to her friend.  By asking it set the ball in motion.

If you want something ask for it.  It costs nothing to ask and the worst they can say is no. You may get a no, but as in John’s case sometimes no isn’t all that bad as it can lead you in another direction. I’ve had suppliers that I thought would say no to bidding on certain work and still asked them. They said no, but referred me to another Supplier that worked out fine, maybe even better than them. Even if they say no you can still use it as an opportunity to learn and solicit their thoughts or opinions on key areas.

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