A hard negotiator might be easier to spot than a empathetic dealmaker that will ask for a million concessions.
By Tony Vega*
A few years ago, as a sales representative for a US-based packaging supplies company, I approached a well-known Mexican corporation to offer our products. Their purchasing manager, my counterpart in the negotiation, seemed interested in our product but right off the bat demanded a price so low it made it impossible for my company to match. He also needed the product in a rush because they could not find a suitable replacement in Mexico.
To my comments regarding the difficulty of complying with their conditions, his response was: “build a plant in Mexico!”
So, taking an accommodating approach, I looked for ways to soften his stance until I found common ground in professional Mexican soccer. After a trip to a game featuring his favorite team, Guadalajara’s Chivas, I was able to mellow his stance by establishing a personal connection with him. During that game, he said: “I want to do business with you; it is just the pricing that is in the middle.”
“What’s important is that you feel comfortable doing business with us,” I answered. From there, it just took a few more emails back and forth before we secured a purchase order with his company.
Hard bargainers, as the one I mention in the previous story, are seen by many as the ultimate difficult proposition in business culture, the kind of unyielding force that will not be moved, will not compromise and will only accept its own unadulterated version of what is good to him in any discussion.
But sometimes it is the flexible guy, the soft-spoken dealer across the table that can surprise you by seemingly making concessions while at the same time reeling you in toward his own ends.
Who would you rather deal with? With whom will it be easier to reach the most satisfying outcome? It might be a difficult question but I urge you to take a long, hard look at your next counterpart before making any concessions. After you have identified his or her style, you might be able to adapt to get the most out of the negotiations.
The Accommodator: He takes time to develop a relationship, he is empathetic and makes the counterpart feel good. He never confronts, he has a positive, supportive attitude and a smiling tone of voice.
The Assertive: Loves winning above all else, is objective oriented. For him, time equals money. He gives an inch-, but takes a mile. And remember, you usually attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Don’t you agree?