"Internal conversations have an impact and you have to manage them carefully” ©123RF
"Internal conversations have an impact and you have to manage them carefully” ©123RF

3 tips for internal negotiation

How to get the best deal for everyone

Dealing with external negotiations is bread and butter for most procurement professionals. But when it comes to negotiating with internal stakeholders, they can stumble, according to Giuseppe Conti, operations director at pharmaceutical company Merck. Speaking at ProcureCon Europe in Berlin, Conti offered three top tips for procurement professionals looking to influence internally.

1. Understand the challenges of internal negotiation

“When we have an internal meeting, we often don’t consider it a negotiation,” said Conti. “But we have different priorities.” Part of the challenge, he said, is the ‘image’ your department has inside the company and the preconceived idea you might have about others. Remember that in an internal negotiation, you will have to continue to work together afterwards, he advised procurement professionals. “Internal conversations have an impact and you have to manage them carefully,” he said.

2. Prepare
“Don’t just talk and expect them to agree,” Conti said. You wouldn’t in an external meeting, so why should this be any different? Preparation is key: engage in stakeholder mapping and analysis, he said. “Understand the interests of all the different stakeholders. Ask them what they think and analyse their point of view.”

3. Know how to deal with conflicting interests

Different departments are going to be pushing for different areas, and procurement needs to understand how to balance that. “Pushback is a good thing, because it helps you understand what matters to the other party,” said Conti. The ultimate solution may depend on company culture, he said. While an informal coffee meeting is enough in some businesses, in others it may require orders from senior management to resolve conflicting issues.

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