Sunday, August 1, 2010

Negotiation Tips Part #1 - Logistics Services

As a logistic professional, negotiation is crucial part of managing relationships with your supply chain vendors - whether it is negotiating carriers rates and contracts, pick and ship rates for fulfillment, or an implementation of a new logistics software to support your operation's Routing Guide.

Don't take it personally...
A mistake that people often make when negotiating is to become too emotionally attached to winning. They shout, threaten and demand to get their way. This is counter-productive.

Most deals are only possible if both people feel they're getting something out of it. If the person across the table feels attacked, or doesn't like you, they probably won't back down. Many people hate bullies, and will be more willing to walk away from a transaction if it involves one.

Keep calm, patient and friendly, even if the other person starts losing their cool. Make sure you leave any pride or ego at the door. You're much more likely to do well that way.

When you are reviewing a proposal from a vendor, don't get suckered by the "rules" trick...
When someone sends me a contract to sign, if there's something on there I don't like, I'll cross it out. I'm also happy to write things I want added in if I think they should be there. Sometimes, the other party will come back to me and say "You're not allowed to make changes to our contracts like that".

This highlights a common tactic used by experienced negotiators. They know many people are sticklers about following rules. So they'll make up official sounding pronouncements and insist that "this is the way it's done" or "you're not allowed to do that". If someone starts trying to box you in by adding rules to the deal, ask them to provide proof that such rules really exist.

Look for Part #2 of this post next week.

Ken is a 15 year veteran of supply chain logistics and has founded companies in the ecommerce fulfillment and transportation management software markets.