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Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking’

Negotiation skills in my opinion are nothing too technical.  Sales people today are already well prepared for intensive bargaining by the buyers and sometimes even the users themselves.  I refuse to believe that we achieve fantastic results because of our expert negotiation skills, unless we are talking about business partnership deals where there are lots of variables to trade mutually.  The latter takes strategic planning, homework and role-playing.

More often than not,  the users or stakeholders do not even know what they want in the first place.  They are confused over why they need what they are buying.  In turn they end up buying things expensively, and sometimes even buying things they don’t need.  It sounds silly, but also ironic that it appears the more “educated” people make more of these mistakes – just because they think these trivial matters are just not worth their valuable time.  Well, that’s why I am paid to help them.  I often spend a considerable amount of time interviewing my users and find out what is the current stage and where they want to go from there.  They will usually have some strong ideas about what they want to buy or may have received proposals already from suppliers.  I help them pin down to what are the necessities and what are the bonuses.  I try to put a limit to customized  requirements in hope to broaden the supply base from a few niche players to a more commoditized market.  This may not be practical at times and I may actually approach it the other way round and look for players that provide me with solutions rather than cookie cutter off-the-shelf products.  This takes experience and I of course need the help and expertise from the users as well.

If you keep asking questions like a 5th grader, you are already half way toward success.

 Pinning down what we want and identifying our true needs is quite a significant milestone.  Sales people love ambiguity because they can pad hidden costs and allowances into their product offering.  I want transparency, accountability and fairness.  With these simple principles, it does not take a genius to drive pricing down.

Some of my colleagues use good old traditional “threat” as their negotiation tactics.  I respect everyone’s individual negotiation styles, but it’s just not my cup of tea.   Today’s suppliers can be larger and more powerful than my employers.  We may actually need to depend on them though we are paying the bill.  When I pick people in my field of strategic procurement, I always go for talents who have expert communication and problem solving skills.  Critical thinking is a must.  The low hanging fruits are long gone, and we are presented with new unprecedented and complex problems.  I need  people who are fast learners, innovative and eloquent.  I used to be told that people who possess these qualities will put procurement jobs as their last resort.  True.  Good people are in demand everywhere.  However, just because such qualities are so rare, they can become truly niche players in the field, and the opportunities are endless.  To raise the bar and professionalism of strategic procurement is partly the objective of me starting this blog.

Cheers!

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