Buyers prefer home advantage in supplier negotiation

28 May 2012

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28 May 2012 | Adam Leach

The majority of buyers prefer to handle their negotiations on home turf, the latest SM100 poll has found.

In the survey, 100 purchasers were asked: “When negotiating with suppliers, do you prefer to do it at home (your office) or away (theirs)?” Some 42 per cent of buyers chose home, 38 per cent chose away and 20 per cent said they didn’t have a preference or preferred a neutral venue.

Tony Morris, head of procurement at Working Links, said: “Home, as I can control the meetings better. However, I do like to visit their office during this time as well.”

Another buyer commented anonymously that she liked the home advantage as it enabled her to prepare for negotiations. “I tend to do a fair amount of preconditioning with the supplier before they arrive and so, without getting too Derren Brown about it, I can set up and control the environment and the timing or pace of discussions to continue that process into negotiation,” she said. “I think it is also partly a placebo in making me feel more in control and so more confident in approach.”

Duncan Stirling, head of service improvement at BT Health, said he prefers to go to suppliers when negotiating. “You get to see the real supplier or vendor, not the brochure version, and you get the opportunity to meet the individuals that will potentially support your account that never get let out,” he said. He, along with a number of the respondents who answered “away”, identified the time taken to travel to the meeting as a disadvantage.

Andy Davies, director at London Universities Purchasing Consortium, said any purchaser worth “his or her salt” should be equally happy when negotiating both at home or away. He also said that, in some cases, a neutral venue is most appropriate.

“On one occasion, when a particularly mired dispute needed a good couple of days to thrash out a solution, a hotel venue meant that business services and refreshments were easily to hand and best of all, neither team could suffer from distractions,” he said.

* Do you prefer ‘home’ or ‘away’ negotiation? Have your say at our blog on the topic here.

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