Monday, January 16, 2012

Resulting Behavior

One of the many tactics negotiators may use is to explain the problem their position is creating for you. A tactic that is similar in nature is to take the time to explain how a supplier’s position will impact your behavior, especially when it will drive behavior on your part that would be against their interests. This can exist in a number of areas. One of my favorite ones involves suppliers that want to have extremely low limitations of liability. For that I explain the behavior by posing a number of questions to them:

1. Do you think we would ever single source you with that limit?
2. Do you think we would have you as a primary source with that limit?
3. Do you think we would invest substantial money working with you to develop a new product with that limit?
4. Do you think we will give you business at the same or higher price than with suppliers that provide higher limits?
5. Do you think we would enter into a long-term agreement with those limits?
6. If there have been claims that have reduced the remaining value of the limit. Do you think we would still give you the same volume level of business?
7. Are you ok with entering into a short relationship where you know that at best you will be is a second or third source and to win that business your price will need to be lower than the competition?

The point each of these questions is trying to explain is their position will drive a resulting behavior.They are limiting their liability, but at the same time they they will drive me to take actions that will severely limit the business they can expect.

In negotiations you always need to consider the impact to both sides. Many times a negotiator’s position may not be well thought out. They may not have thought out how you would respond based upon it. As a negotiator sometimes you need to provide them with a reality check. Get them to think about the behavior their position will drive.

In this case these are all loaded questions that the supplier’s salesperson simply doesn’t want to hear. Every salesperson wants the relationship to generate the maximum potential volume. When you make it clear that their position will get in the way of getting business, they need to decide whether they want to accept that or go back to their management to see if they will change the position.