Posted On 26 Giugno 2019 By In Supply Chain With 894 Views

The greatest skill of all…?

Magazine - recensione

Riportiamo la recensione di Andrea Cordell del suo libro The Negotiation Handbook, edito da Taylor & Francis Inc., pubblicata sul magazine “The Procurement – Il futuro del Procurement” (Anno 5 Numero 1)

Negotiation is one of the core skills that all procurement professionals need to succeed in today’s commercial world. Arguably, it’s the most important commercial skill of all. Yet, despite the amazing scientific and technological advances of our society, we still cannot agree on some fundamental questions about negotiation:

  • Which negotiation tools and techniques are best to use?
  • Is there a recommended best practice or a “world class” standard?
  • What is it that defines a “great” negotiator?
  • Are the greatest negotiators born that way or are they made great over time?

This last question is the most interesting. If negotiators were born (not made) then there is little hope for us all. Rather than accept that it’s “all in the genes” I believe the skill of negotiation can be developed, nurtured and refined in the commercial world.

Obviously, some of this comes to us naturally through experience and observation, but it also really helps when we are presented with a recognised practical toolkit that we can adopt as our own and apply to any specific commercial situation.

The power of negotiation and its significant contribution to the procurement manager’s skillkit is undeniable. Some have argued that if there was one skill above all that they would want all procurement professionals to develop, it would be that of negotiating well in a wide variety of situations. Despite that, while many procurement managers possess great negotiation skills, we have all met some who are sadly lacking – or, perhaps to put it more kindly, they still have more to develop in terms of their negotiation skills!

Procurement uses negotiation every day to unlock added value for its organisation. So it follows that negotiation should be a skill we are continuously developing and working to improve on. It could be negotiating directly with suppliers to reduce costs, improve quality and service, or to improve the overall terms of business – or it can be a wide variety of other negotiation scenarios such as internal budget meetings, performance appraisals, stakeholder liaison, contract renewal, change management, purchasing compliance and so on.

There are two fundamental components that make good negotiators truly great: they possess a powerful toolkit of different negotiation tools, techniques and methodologies, and they know when to use the right negotiation tool for each given scenario they face.

The negotiation handbook

The Negotiation Handbook is a short and effective practical guide to help you on your journey to negotiation greatness. Its first edition was published by the Uk’s Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (Cips). The second edition (2018) is an improved international version from the global publisher Routledge, and also soon to be translated into Spanish.

It’s more of a toolkit than a book, because it covers all of the widely recognised tools and techniques known in the market today and presents them in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use manner.

All negotiations contain the same base elements: two or more parties cannot immediately agree on an outcome; they share their views and opinions, while exploring ways to reach an acceptable agreement. While doing this they employ various tactics and methods of persuasion and look for opportunities to gain concession. Finally, after movement from one or more parties an acceptable agreement is reached and a ‘deal’ is done.

We could be describing any negotiation here. It doesn’t matter if this is the most basic negotiation (for example at a market trader’s stall) or a more complex negotiation (for example when involved in international outsourcing, intellectual property licensing or trade talks). These basic principles of negotiation still exist – they even exist among political negotiations such as Brexit when we look close enough!

The Negotiation Handbook is divided into seven sections representing the seven generic steps in every negotiation journey. Each section is then reviewed and the most popular tools and techniques in use across the world today are explained simply and effectively. Wherever possible you are taken back to the original author or creator of the negotiation tool, but given a practical insight into how it’s best applied in today’s procurement world. At the back of the book you are presented with over 40 photocopiable templates to start preparing your own negotiations, using the tools in your toolkit and improving your addedvalue outcomes.

So, the tools of the trade have been given to you, ready-to-use and easily accessible. What are you waiting for? Go and enjoy the greatest skill of all: negotiating agreements with others and adding value to our wonderful profession!

The book can be ordered directly from publisher: www.routledge.com

Is a well-known international speaker and author on strategy, negotiation and procurement-related matters. She has worked in senior positions at several global organisations (including Glaxo SmithKline and Barclays) and is currently the managing director of Cordie Ltd, a leading sales and procurement training and consulting company. Other books in this book series by Routledge include The Category Management Handbook and The Procurement Models Handbook.

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