Outwit, Outlast and Outplay Your Vendors

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As most of you know, “Outwit, Outlast and Outplay” is the overarching theme from “Survivor“, the show where alliances are everything and it all comes down to one person winning a million dollars in a remote jungle halfway around the world.

What if this were a real life scenario where you saved your company a million dollars in technology spend by outwitting, outlasting and outplaying your vendors in the climate controlled jungle of cubicle city?

Outwit. Vendors are trained professionals. They’ve won the immunity challenge so many times they can run that muddy obstacle course barefoot with their eyes closed. This isn’t an affront to vendors, because they provide valuable goods and services. This is about putting on your warpaint and outwitting them to get the best deal for your company’s needs. How can you outwit them? Do your research. What products are you interested in purchasing? Look at their competitors. What are the differences between their competitor’s product? Where’s your leverage? This is a great book that I recommend reading, it’s called the “Technology Salesperson’s Handbook” . The subtitle is “114 World Proven Lessons and Tactics”. How many “world proven” lessons and tactics does the average layperson have? Unfortunately, not many. But, we can use their own tactics to outwit them!

Outlast. Time is the ultimate leverage in all negotiations. The vendors will get desperate. You’ll get desperate.  It’ll feel like a Survivor endurance challenge as you hold on with your last remaining finger.  At some point you may need to move on your position, but don’t move in the beginning of the negotiations. Take your time and stay strong, getting the products and pricing you need for your company.

Outplay. Don’t show your hand right away. For example, you’ve got a Q4 budget surplus and your boss is breathing down your neck to spend it. If you let the vendor know upfront that you’ve got cash to burn and you have to spend it by the end of the year, the vendor will bundle the heck out of that software to the tune of whatever your budget ceiling is, give you a measly 10% discount when you complain about the price and still walk away with a sweet commission and a trip to Cozumel. Don’t share information with vendors that you don’t have to share. Play the negotiation game and keep them on their toes!

As Jeff Probst, Survivor host, says in every episode, “Survivors, ready…go!”

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