Negotiate Your Next Deal Like a Superhero (Part Three)

Pat Bohnenkamp

Pat Bohnenkamp

So, superheroes always take out the bad guy, right? Well when you are the superhero of negotiating, it’s important to remember we are all in this together… literally. In most cases, you and others in your organization will be working for years to come with the people you’re negotiating with. Best to start that relationship with the right foot forward.

Speaking of the right foot, I have worked for several years to develop a relationship with Adobe on behalf of multiple clients. A lot of our clients do business with Adobe, and they can be a very challenging company to work with when you don’t know how they work. Because I’ve developed a relationship with several people at Adobe, our negotiations go over very smoothly. They know me. They know what I expect and what I’m going to ask for. Sometimes they offer it right off the bat, sometimes they don’t. If they don’t I ask for it and they don’t fight me on it. All because we have a relationship of respect which ultimately benefits us both. The moral of the story is that relationships matter in negotiations. If you want something out of them, you need to invest in them.


This is the third and final blog in our POWW series where we discuss the WW for Win-Win. If you missed part 2, you can catch up here or check out the full companion podcast found here.

As a refresher, POWW is an acronym that represents Seprio’s fundamental tenets of a negotiation: Preparation, Objectivity, and Win-Win. It’s our secret sauce which we’re sharing with all of you… BAM!

Holy Handstand, Batman! Why Win-Win?

When we talk about win-win we get a lot of eye rolls because the concept has become very cliché and its value, therefore, marginalized. It goes back to an underlying theme throughout this series… there is always going to be emotion at play. You're negotiating against human beings. They have feelings. They have families. They have a job to do. They may have quotas and pressures. As far as I'm concerned, unless you have absolute power in a negotiation, both sides are going to need to gain something. And I would argue that even if you have absolute power in negotiation, if the other side doesn't gain something, you're going to lose in the long run.

Early in my career, I viewed negotiations as a win/loss party had to lose so the other party (mine, preferably) could win. I now see that was shortsighted and petty. The other party needs to see value from the deal, and, as the negotiator, it falls to you to identify what the other party considers “value” and bolster their feeling that they are realizing that value. Part of our internal training program is to train our negotiators to make sure that they're selling “victory” to the vendor. Selling the possibility for a case study down the road, for example. Maybe the Client will agree to serve as a reference. These are victories for a vendor salesperson, and they go a long way to create a positive relationship which can help you get better service during the term of your contract or even make future negotiations or re-negotiations more fruitful.

The plain truth of the matter is, unless you’re buying some commodity whose quality is absolutely guaranteed, and you require no services or relationship after the purchase, you will almost certainly not be happy with a deal where the supplier didn’t win anything in negotiations. At some point you’re going to need something from that supplier, and if you’ve cut them down to the bare minimum of profit, or other value, you may very well not get what you need from them, even if the contract requires it. If you have treated them fairly and framed your negotiations in a way that made them feel that they have won, even while you yourself know that you've won, they're likely to be a better, more accommodating, vendor partner. Win-Win. 

POWW! Holy Hot Foot, Batman! What’s next?

Well that wraps up this three-part series on POWW! If you haven’t had a chance to catch the other parts or want an easy refresher, check out the companion podcast here. And stay tuned for our next blog series.

Thanks for joining us at the Seprio Blog, a place to find pearls useful in protecting your business priorities, where we tell stories and talk about best practices in vendor management, negotiating, and contracting better. I’m your host and Seprio Master Certified Negotiator, Patrick Bohnenkamp.

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