How important is the spirit of the organization in the business they attract? I recently heard about a contract negotiation. The buyer told the seller that the agreement presented was more favorable to the seller than to the buyer; more so than any of the other agreements presented by finalists for the engagement. The seller’s legal representative said, “Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment.” Did you catch that, the legal guy was proud that his agreement was lopsided in his favor and not even equal footing with the buyer!
As the buyer, how easy do you think the seller will be to work with when things get tough? Engagements can be messy how will they work with me to resolve the challenges? Are you eager to work with them?
It has been my experience, that we attract to us the kind of people and companies that reflect our beliefs. So if we go into the engagement planning on trouble and struggle, we often get the chance to experience that. If we go into the engagement with mutual trust, we find that when things go amiss (and they often will) we can come together and resolve them with little effort.
Let me give you an example. One customer was purchasing fiberglass insulation. In addition, the sales executive and buyer had negotiated a fee discount based on volume. The Branch delivering the material made up a rate table incorrectly. It was over a year before the buyer noticed he was getting overcharged. He brought it to the salesman’s attention and each team came together to determine the best solution.
Both sides looked at the contractual language and agreed that what was charged was not what was in the agreement. They came to terms on repayment, a new contract was executed and they continue to work together today a year later.
What happened here was a level of mutual trust. They came to that and they worked from the perspective that we are in this together, they have each received good value from the relationship, they want to find a way to continue.
Contrast that with the negotiation that takes place where everyone wants to maximize their return even at the expense of the other. They are looking for the WIN/LOSE deal. I once had a client where there was a management change. The new supervisor came in and determined that the new technology we were using to deliver our services was not defined in the agreement so he could tell us not to use it. Not using it would have either doubled our cost or reduced the service we delivered. We tried to demonstrate this, we demonstrated the benefit delivered by this technology but “Steve” would not hear it. He terminated the agreement. As a result, he lost $100,000 – 125,000 a year in value that we were delivering over the other suppliers. LOSE/LOSE.
What do you think? Should we do business with people that are looking for a WIN at any cost? Or do you think as Steven Covey it should be WIN WIN or no deal?