Having a plan is important for many reasons in your negotiations with suppliers. In this post I would like to address one particular reason why, and that is: getting your stakeholders to buy in to what you are trying to achieve and giving you, as procurement, control of the negotiations.

Use Your Plan To Maintain Control

Without a plan there is a void in the early stages of the negotiations. If you don’t define success and the steps to getting there, then either the planning and preparation will drift aimlessly, or someone else will do the planning. As soon as they do, then they are, leading the negotiations, and you will find it difficult to wrestle that control back from them.

Come Up With The Plan Early On

So my advice would be: try to be the first to develop the plan. That does not mean unilaterally imposing your ideas on your negotiating team. Collaboration is important, but as the procurement professional, you should be the one directing the show.

Based on your experience, you should be able to make predictions about what is possible in terms of pricing, savings, contract terms, etc. However, as you set those goals you may also want to have an eye on what your business stakeholders need to hear in order to get them to trust you with their negotiation (because we should never forget it is their money).

Get Everyone On The Plane

Just as in the A-Team, you might need to keep some aspects of your plan to yourself. Otherwise, you might hear the equivalent of “I ain’t gettin’ on no plane”. Would you come across as too ambitious or unrealistic if you set out from the beginning what you think is truly possible? Similarly, you may need to shoot for a stretch goal in order to be in line with their objectives – who knows, you might achieve it.

No Leaky Negotiations

By explaining clearly to your stakeholders how you intend to reach the objectives set, you will gain their trust in letting you dictate the pace and schedule of the negotiations. Trust is crucial to avoiding leaky negotiations where multiple people interact with the supplier in an uncontrolled manner.

When the entire team comes bursting out of that lockup with your cobbled together fire throwers and machine guns, you can puff on your stogie and be glad that the plan kept everyone together 🙂


Image credit: “A-Team van” by Doug Kline, Creative Commons, Flickr.com