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Buyers and Sellers: A World Apart?

There are significant variations in the priorities of the buyer and the seller - and in their perceptions of where they spend most time today. This typically reflects a difference in relative values and indicates opportunities for trade-off during negotiations. But they also share a mutual desire for a new agenda - and this is being prevented by timing of engagement and their lack of influence over 'the relationship'.

Growing specialism frequently results in today's negotiators going head-to-head on a list of issues; it reduces the opportunities to discuss trade-off based on the relative importance of those issues. To take a case in point, 'data protection and security' and 'insurance' are terms of high importance to buyers. Sellers, on the other hand, appear especially sensitive to 'liquidated damages' and 'service levels'. Are there opportunities to reach compromises based on these different areas of concern? The list suggests a range of opportunities in this regard.

The 'terms of the future' point to a much closer common interest than the parties otherwise believe. As previously noted, each sees 'the other side' as the obstacle to changing the negotiations agenda, but it appears that the real obstacle may be more to do with custom and practice and a failure to open the door to new conversations. This may in part be a result of timing of engagement. The fact that those who are responsible for negotiation are rarely involved in early discussions or in establishing relationships makes it hard to shift the traditional agenda.

Fig 10

2012 Top Terms in Negotiation, By Tim Cummins


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The Negotiator Magazine  (February, 2013)