Every negotiator must continually be developing negotiation skills that bring about good results for their clients, internal or external. My guest on this episode is Mohammed Faridy, a man who has great insight into the subject because he put himself on a trajectory toward constant improvement from his early days as a negotiator. It was working at Citibank that he found two excellent negotiation mentors who helped him get his bearings and hone his skills in IT contract negotiations.
Today, Mohammed provides negotiations consulting and training and serves as CEO of OneView, a technology procurement software as a service. That role puts him on the other side of the procurement negotiations table, which makes his dual-perspective rare and valuable, so be sure you listen.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:34] Mohammed’s unique perspective from both sides of the procurement role
- [6:57] What most procurement professionals do well in negotiations
- [16:18] The best ways to improve negotiations skills
- [22:35] One piece of advice for all negotiators to apply
To become better as a negotiator, know where you are already doing well
When looking to develop your negotiation skills you need to take stock. When you know the things you are already doing well with, you can find ways to build on those strengths and gain momentum that enables you to grow your negotiating chops more rapidly.
For example, most procurement negotiators are good at negotiating price and negotiating terms and conditions that align with their business standards. Does that describe you? Mohammed says this is the case because of how accountability is normally structured for procurement professionals. Procurement typically reports to the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and is measured against cost savings. When your job depends on getting a lower price, you either get better at negotiating price or you find a different line of work. It’s the forced repetition and repeated focus that makes developing negotiation skills in this particular area happen.
Take a long hard look at where you are weakest as a negotiator
Once you’ve got a handle on your areas of strength, it’s time to turn to your areas of weakness. When it comes to procurement, Mohammad is especially qualified to comment. His experience on both sides of procurement negotiations, as well as his experience as a negotiations consultant, has given him a broad array of situations and procurement personnel to observe.
He says that the biggest weakness of most procurement negotiators is that they are not very strategic—they don’t take enough time to understand their client’s needs, whether that client is internal or external. For example, procurement negotiators need to understand the business problem they are trying to solve, ask enough questions to make sure they do, and be willing to investigate all available options. But sadly, too many don’t do these things and are thus handicapped when it comes to developing negotiation skills that will truly serve their client’s interests.
Developing negotiations skills happens best through mentoring
Mohammed tells of two mentors who invested in him during his time at Citibank. The first was a man named Ted. He was a quiet individual and understood the value of listening as a tool for gleaning insight and understanding. But Ted was also quite savvy at recognizing when a negotiation needed to be escalated to draw the other side of the table back to the needed area of focus. Mohammed tells a funny story about one of Ted’s approaches that was very unorthodox, so be sure you listen to hear that.
Jane was Mohammed’s second mentor during his time at Citibank and could not have been more different from Ted. Mohammed says that when Jane walked into the room she immediately had the floor and everyone responded. She was confident, direct, clearly in charge, and able to move negotiations forward effectively. During this conversation, you’ll hear how appreciative Mohammed is of both of these mentors and how important their influence was in helping him develop into the top negotiator and negotiations trainer he is today. He recommends that everyone, experienced or just starting out, finds a mentor.
Mohammed’s best advice for all negotiators
In every negotiation and in life in general, spend more time listening and less time talking. That’s Mohammed’s advice for developing negotiation skills faster. He says it best,
“Talk less and listen more. If you just listen to what the other side is saying or listen to what your internal clients are saying, you’ll find gold in those conversations. But if you spend all your time talking, and procurement people especially when you’re negotiating with a supplier, if you’re going to spend the first twenty minutes just telling the supplier what you want, and within that conversation telling them what your budget is and what your restraints are and all of these other things that you don’t need to tell them, you’re going to have a poor negotiation. So, talk less, listen more.”
Be sure you listen to hear Mohammed’s personal journey from aircraft mechanic to IT negotiator, teacher, and consultant, and how he went about developing his negotiation skills, on this episode.
Resources & People Mentioned
- Harvard’s Negotiation Training – Mohammed mentioned this course
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