Global Leaders in Procurement & Negotiations (

Selecting Negotiation Team Members – Are You in Control of the Process?

Purchasing Negotiation Team Training


Purchasing Negotiation Team Training
Choose Your Negotiation Team

Are you struggling with too many people wanting to be a part of your negotiation team? People who feel like they have to be represented? I’m talking about the big-deal negotiations here.

When it comes to negotiation team development, sometimes there are too many cooks in the kitchen, or worse yet, too many people who want to be in the kitchen, but can’t cook, don’t have time to cook, or don’t actually want to cook.

Still worse than that is some want to be invited to the kitchen, and want to say they are in the kitchen, but don’t actually plan to ever step foot in the kitchen. These are the people who get offended when they are not invited to be part of the negotiation team but make no attempts at contribution when they actually are.

Too many negotiation team members can also make it hard to get anything done. Someone is always on a business trip or tied up in a critical project or on vacation when you want to meet. Too many opinions and too many voices also make it hard to agree on anything.

How do you handle all this when so many groups want to feel “represented”, and want to have a seat at the table? How do you satisfy all these groups and still get anything done?

You have to take control of the reigns and the process. There is ONE negotiation process and results owner, and that is you. Period.

You can’t do this by throwing your weight around and burning bridges with people you don’t want on your team. What you need to do is to exercise a bit of diplomacy.
For the purpose of this blog and this particular topic, diplomacy is the art of creating the illusion of inclusion on other people’s terms, while actually having it be on your terms.

Actually, that’s a pretty good definition of leadership – the ability to get people to adopt and evangelize your ideas while making them feel really good about the whole process. Difficult stuff.

Recognize that not all negotiation team member positions should be created equal. What you need to do is classify them by ‘core’ and ‘extended’.

Core members are those few members who really need to be a deep part of every step throughout the negotiation process. For smaller negotiations, this may just be you. For bigger deals, it may include you, the customer, and possibly players from finance, engineering, receiving, etc.

Suffice it to say however that more is not better when it comes to core. Keep it to the people that YOU really want engaged in the process. People don’t vote themselves to core, you assign them to core.

Extended members are those who are copied on the agendas in advance and are copied on the minutes following meetings and are also copied on the calendar hit, but invited as an ‘optional’. They then only attend meetings where they see a topic of particular interest or you ask them to be there on an exception basis for a particular topic.

Absent attendance at a meeting, they are also asked to voice any opinions they may have in advance of any given meeting, by email or or by other communication method. That’s why they see the agendas in advance. If they have issues with the content of the minutes, they need to voice that right away. Otherwise, silence = acceptance. You need to tell them that.

How do you sell this to people you want to be on the extended negotiation team, such that they don’t get offended? This is especially important for people who you don’t want/need on the negotiation team, but insist their participation is necessary, or will cause you endless heartache if they are not included.

The simple answer is that you just need to stroke their ego. Something like this:

“You know, I am really seeing the value of having you participate in the entire negotiation planning process for this big deal we have here. Your inputs are going to be absolutely critical to the process. However, I’m concerned about using your time properly.

I really want to save my silver bullets with you so that when I pull you in, it’s to help nail a particular angle of our strategy and objectives that you have exception insight into, but at the same time, I also don’t want to waste your time when we’re covering the many other areas that don’t tie into you as much.

The best way I can figure to do that is to have you on my ‘extended’ team, which gives you full insight to everything we’re doing, full input capabilities, and also allows me to recognize the value of your time overall for the company. You’ll get agendas beforehand and minutes afterwards, and you can cherry pick which discussions you want to be there for, or I may ask you to be at a particular discussion – burning one of my silver bullets.

All I ask is that if you have any concerns or inputs at any point in time, you voice them right there and then. Otherwise, my assumption throughout the process is going to be that you are fully on board with what we’re driving.

I can’t think of a better way to harness the value you bring to the table. Does this work for you?”

You can do this. Don’t let anyone else dictate any aspect of the negotiation planning process. You are the undisputed leader and decision maker.

This is just the start, of course. There are many other things we need to cover as it relates to negotiation planning and team/organizational dynamics.

I want to talk next week about establishing negotiation ground rules so that all team members are aligned and you are in charge of negotiation strategy. Stay tuned.