A $450 M Negotiation? No Problem with "Yes, If"

decision making negotiations yesif
$450 M Negotiation With "Yes If"

$450,000,000 - that’s a big negotiation, and I loved every moment of it.

Reflecting on nearly 20 years in “Corporate America” gigs, I think about the people, the wins, the losses, and the moments that made a profound impact.

Leading a $450 million negotiation was one of those moments that significantly impacted my career. 

Leading a major lab diagnostic sales and marketing team in North America was my most significant role. I had over 500 people on my team, +$1.5 billion in sales a year to produce, and the need to continually communicate to the executive committee members and front-line sales reps on any given day.

Besides the great people I worked with, I remember one BIG negotiation. It was…

  • The contract we had to win.
  • The customer we needed to retain.
  • And the credibility we had to have for the new product that was in our sales bag.

The negotiation went like this:

  1. The customer issued an RFP (Request for Proposal)
  2. My team and I met and planned short-, medium--, and long-term plays.
  3. My company and a competitor were shortlisted as the final two vendors.
  4. The negotiation began.
  5. The customer sent us a list of 30 questions before our first sit-down, and this is where we started to “Yes, If” our way to success.

With 30+ customer asks, some small and many big, I directed my sales team to say “YES” to every request “IF” the customer would also give us what we needed to deem this negotiation a success.

  • “YES, we can lower the price IF you give us three more years of the term.”
  • “YES, we can commit to your service level requests IF you sign a premium service agreement.”
  • “YES, to that, IF you can do this for us.”

I will never forget the negotiating room we were in and the moment the customer opened the meeting with, “Did you review our 30 asks?” Our response floored them when we said, “YES, we are ready to accept all of your requests IF you will accept the requests we have prepared.”

Their faces lit up when we accepted ALL of their requests IF they would cooperate with us. 

From there, we traded value for value. I’ll give you something if you provide me with something of value.

We went back and forth for a few months until we reached an agreement.

The contract was:

  1.  Bigger than we first planned.
  2. A longer term in years than we had hoped for.
  3. More profitable than we modeled.
  4. A winner for BOTH sides.

Feedback from the customers cited our cooperative posture as a reason they ultimately chose to go with our offering. No doubt, a cooperative negotiation signaled to this customer that we would be a collaborative and present partner throughout the agreement.

Two words, “Yes, If,” set the tone and direction of this mega-negotiation. 

Whether the stakes are massive or minor, deploy cooperation within the negotiation to find the winning solution for everyone involved.

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