In 2020, Covid-19 brought into question everything procurement professionals thought they knew about supplier negotiations. As many organisations shifted to a remote working model, procurement teams were no longer able to meet with vendors in person, nurture meaningful relationships, or be seated around the same negotiating table.
Inevitably, this has presented some unique communication challenges. A lack of face-to-face communication can result in slower decision making, increased misunderstandings, and reduced trust and transparency between negotiating parties.
But while procurement’s negotiation skills have certainly been put to the test in recent months, there are several ways to effectively negotiate via video conference.
1. Pre-determine key roles and responsibilities within your team
Conversations via video conference tend to flow a little less organically than face-to-face meetings. To avoid the discomfort of either a slow-paced and stilted conversation or everyone speaking on top of one another, it’s a good idea to assign responsibilities to each meeting attendee. Who will introduce the meeting and outline the agenda? Who will communicate your team’s objectives? Who will answer questions on certain topics and who will summarise the next steps?
2. Test your tech ahead of the meeting
Nothing ruins the mood of a meeting more quickly than failing technology. You don’t want to be spending the first 20 minutes of a supplier negotiation scrambling to get your team connected and everyone’s webcams switched on.
Make sure you do a complete test-run of all the necessary technology ahead of time – particularly if you’ll be relying on features like screen sharing to deliver presentations. Request that your team log in five minutes before the meeting begins so you can check audio and video quality.
3. Allow some time for making meaningful connections
Just because you aren’t in the room with your suppliers, it doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to get to know them and foster meaningful relationships. Allow some time at the beginning of the meeting to catch up or (if they’re a prospective vendor) properly getting to know each other. Making a personal connection will put your attendees at ease, reduce tension and stress, improve trust, and lead to better financial outcomes.
4. Be aware of your body language
It’s much harder to read and interpret someone’s non-verbal cues via video conference, while more subtle expressions and movements might be missed entirely. It’s important to bear this in mind as you navigate your video conference negotiations. You might think you’re coming across as engaged and responsive, but you’ll need to exaggerate your behaviours and facial expressions if you want to communicate them through your webcam.
5. Keep your meetings brief
The world has reached a point in the global pandemic where Zoom fatigue is increasingly prevalent. Employees are sick and tired of partaking in back-to-back video calls where time is wasted and very little gets done.
You’ll keep everyone happy if you create a clear agenda, stick to your key points, and don’t allow your meetings to run overtime.
Negotiation Bootcamp – The Trusted Negotiator
Interested in brushing up on your negotiating skills? PASA’s 2021 premium training program includes a two-day essential negotiation workshop for procurement practitioners.
Dates available for this online course include: 22nd to 25th February | 9.30am to 10.30am AEDT (ONLINE)
11th -to 13th May | 9.00am to 1.00pm AEDT (ONLINE)
4th to 6th August | 9.00am to 1.00pm AEDT (ONLINE)
14th to 16th September | 9.00am to 1.00pm AEDT (ONLINE)
7th to 9th December | 9.00am to 1.00pm AEDT (ONLINE)
Standard Price: $2200 + GST
PASA Connect Member: $1950 + GST