How to Win Like a Negotiations Ninja

When you think of the word “ninja,” what comes to mind? Black outfits? Nunchucks? Turtles? What about sourcing and procurement? 

Not all sourcing professionals may be martial arts masters, but Sourcing’s daily work of negotiating with suppliers and stakeholders requires just as much precision and dedication. That’s why we hit the road last week with Mark Raffan, the Negotiations Ninja himself, to meet up with fellow Sourcing Leaders in Chicago and New York and hear Mark’s tips and tricks on how he handles his toughest negotiations. 

Lessons from the Negotiations Master

Although negotiating well is often viewed as a mysterious art, Mark argues that it’s just as much a science that requires data, structure, and strategy. During his discussions with Chicago and New York Sourcing Leaders, Mark highlighted the following points as crucial in mastering negotiations. 

  1. Arm yourself with accurate information.
    • Knowing exactly what you’re asking for, and what the other party wants is essential in effective negotiations. Mark suggests meeting face to face with your stakeholders and diving deep into their needs, sorting out their must-haves from their nice-to-haves and setting realistic goals before meeting with suppliers.
  2. Know your role.
    • When negotiating as a team, it is important to assign roles to each team member and stick to them. Ideally, Mark advises there be a primary negotiator to lead the conversation, a scribe to take notes, an observer, and an internal third-party member to steer the negotiator back on course should they get lost in the weeds. Mark also advocates for having a stakeholder present as long as they are clearly briefed on what they should and should not say. 
  3. Turn the tables.
    • According to Mark, the best negotiators can step into the shoes of a salesperson and tap into their persuasion tool kits. When negotiating with salespeople, Mark advises to create a list of ten points of pride about your organization. By referring back to these points frequently, you can condition the other party to buy in emotionally, then leverage your business for better outcomes. 
  4. Ask for more than you expect.
    • Mark’s favorite negotiation tip? Get comfortable with rejection. “Next time you’re in line at the grocery store,” he suggests, “ask for a 15% discount – you’re going to hate every second of it.” Asking for more than you expect will give your negotiation room to move and will lead to better outcomes for your team.
  5. Your body talks.
    • Mark argues that body language is 55% of communication. Projecting confidence through your posture and gestures will not only show that you know what you’re talking about, but it will also show that you’re listening and engaged in the conversation.
  6. Silence is golden.
    • How you say something is just as important as what you say, and sometimes, saying nothing at all is the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. While it can be difficult to learn and even harder to practice, Mark says that knowing when to let silences hang is instrumental in negotiation as it prompts the other party to fill the gap.

We are so grateful to Mark for joining us at our Chicago and New York City Sourcing Leaders events last week, and we hope that these tips will help you hone your negotiation skills as you continue to support your business. Looking for more ninja moves to take to your next conversations? Subscribe to the Negotiations Ninja Newsletter for deeper insights.

What’s Next for the Negotiations Ninja?

If you’d like to see Mark again or missed us this time, you can catch him at SPARK 2020! Mark, along with fellow industry leaders like Loonshots author Safi Bahcall and AT Kearney’s Dr. Elouise Epstein, will be leading discussions on how you can champion transformation in your organization, leverage innovative technologies, and achieve better business outcomes across the enterprise. 

We’ve scored a special discount for our procurement ninjas. Register now and use code ninja85spk to get 85% off your ticket – please leave your throwing stars at home. We can’t wait to see you soon!

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