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Volume 10 | Issue 4

Putting it in context

A message from CDC Integrated Services, LLC

Turning a No into a Yes in Negotiation

Negotiation is vital for any supply chain manager, as you often have to deal with multiple stakeholders, such as suppliers, customers, partners, and regulators. However, negotiation is not always easy, and sometimes you may encounter a No from your counterpart. How do you handle and turn such a situation into a positive outcome?

This newsletter will share some tips and strategies for overcoming No in a negotiation based on the latest research and best practices. We will cover three main aspects: understanding the reason behind the No, getting creative with alternative options, and changing your approach or timing.

Understanding the Reason Behind the No

The first step to overcoming No is understanding why your counterpart said it. A No can disguise several issues, such as a problem to solve, a feeling, or a constraint. Depending on the reason, you can focus on different aspects of the negotiation.

  • – If a problem to be solved drives the No, then you can focus on a plan. For example, if your supplier says No to a lower price because they have higher costs, you can find ways to reduce or increase their value.
  • – If unstated concerns/feelings underly the No, then you can focus on listening to your counterpart’s specific fears and concerns, then devise a plan together to assuage each of these. For example, suppose your customer says No to a more extended contract because they are worried about the quality of your service. In that case, you can offer them guarantees, testimonials, or trial periods to build trust and confidence.
  • – If an unstated constraint creates the  No response, then you can focus on finding out the source and scope of the constraint and see if there is any room for flexibility or exception. For example, suppose your partner says No to a joint venture because they have a policy against it. In that case, ask them who made the policy, why, and when, and see if there is any possibility of changing or creating a workaround solution.

When you launch into convincing mode without complete information, you may focus on the wrong argument. Furthermore, you risk putting your counterpart on the defensive and shutting down any additional conversation by launching into a counter-argument right away instead of trying better to understand the other side’s point of view. Therefore, it is important to ask open-ended questions, listen actively, and empathize with your counterpart before you try to persuade them.

Getting Creative with Alternative Options

One of the critical steps in preparing for any negotiation is to think about alternative options to getting what you want. Sometimes, the response to your request is no because it is impossible, impractical, or unacceptable for your counterpart. In such cases, you must have a backup plan or a Plan B.

A Plan B is not a second-best option but a different way of achieving your interests or goals. For example, if you are interested in sourcing raw materials from a supplier, you may request to buy from them. However, suppose your counterpart says No to that. In that case, you can think of other ways to get the material, such as buying it from another supplier, finding a substitute, or producing it yourself.

Knowing you may get a No to a particular request, what else can you ask for? Here are some examples of creative alternative options in different scenarios:

  • – If you want to source raw material from a supplier, but they say No because they have an exclusive contract with your competitor, you can ask them for a different but compatible material, for a referral to another supplier, or if they can renegotiate their contract.
  • – If you want to deliver a product to a customer, but they say No because they have changed their specifications, you can ask them to accept a partial delivery or ask them to extend the deadline to allow for changes in the product.
  • – If you want to partner with a regulator, but they say No because they have a conflict of interest, you can ask them to identify the conflict to see if a different approach will overcome it.

Ideally, it would help if you already had some creative alternative options for when you hear a No. Remember to think of multiple possibilities, even unconventional ones. For instance, if you can’t source a raw material from a supplier, can you create a synthetic one? That way, you can reduce your dependence on external sources.

Changing Your Approach or Timing

Finally, while you may deserve what you’re asking for, it’s critical to be flexible about other options and make sure you are asking the right person. That said, you may still receive a negative response. The timing of the negotiation may be wrong.

Timing refers to when you ask for something, and it can depend on various factors, such as the market conditions, the mood of your counterpart, the urgency of the situation, or the availability of resources. Sometimes, you may have to wait for a better opportunity or create one to make your request more appealing or acceptable.

The approach you ultimately use depends on various factors, such as the relationship with your counterpart, the communication style, the framing of the request, or how you present the benefits. Sometimes, you may have to change your perspective, set a different tone, create a different script, or use a different medium to make your request more persuasive or respectful.

Here are some examples of how changing your approach or timing can help you overcome No in different scenarios:

  • – If you’re negotiating with the wrong person, you can either find out who the right person is and talk to them directly or ask your counterpart to advocate for you with the decision-maker.
  • – If you ask for flexibility, but your counterpart doesn’t have the authority to make these exceptions, you can either escalate the issue to a higher level or ask your counterpart to start the change process with you rather than getting a specific decision right away.
  • – If you want to sell your product, but your customer is still waiting to be ready to buy, you can follow up with them later or offer them a trial, a demo, or a free sample to increase their interest and trust.

Remember, No really means Not Now. When someone declines your request, it could be because of what you’re asking for, how you asked, or when you asked. You may get to a Yes if you change any of these factors.

In summary, these are the reasons to:

  • – Stay calm
  • – Ask for information
  • – Get creative

These actions keep you in the negotiation. They keep your counterpart from going on the defensive and buy you time to figure out a solution that works best for both of you.

We at CDC Integrated Services hope you found this newsletter helpful and informative. Please contact us if you have any questions, comments, or feedback. We would love to hear from you.

Happy negotiating!

Food for Thought: “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”  (Albert Einstein)

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