The Best Procurement Books of 2016: The Negotiation Book

Continuing our reprise of the best procurement books of 2016 with a second edition of The Negotiation Book. The author, Steve Gates, is founder of the Gap Partnership, the leading negotiation training and advisory firm. The first edition of this book was published in 2011, and in this second edition, he makes quite a few changes and additions – it is “Updated and revised to reflect the rapid change in what people and companies are negotiating over and the value attributed to time, risk, convenience and information in response to the benefits of technology”.

It remains one of THE absolutely essential books on this topic and required reading for any procurement professional. Here is what we said about it way back in 2012!

To summarise our thoughts  - it’s highly recommended. I like the blend of hard, technical thinking about negotiation planning, strategy and tactics alongside the recognition that negotiation requires us to think hard about our own behaviours and the way we act within the negotiation context.

The concept of the “clock face” is a good aide memoire used throughout the book to describe the different types of negotiation. As Professor Andrew Cox would say, appropriateness is everything in business, and in procurement, and the clock face is really all about behaving in an appropriate manner to maximise your success depending on the type of negotiation.

For instance, if you’re at one of the “early” points on the clock face, and you’re into bartering or basic bidding processes, then some advanced negotiation techniques are worse than useless. As you move towards considering “problem solving” and “relationship building” negotiation, as Gates puts it, where you’re jointly trying to “grow the size of the cake” rather than just argue about how to divide it, then the clever stuff should kick in.

Gates describes the “ten negotiation traits”, which include (for example) self-discipline, assertiveness, curiosity and humility. They are the behavioural qualities a good negotiator needs – and this section is the best description of this aspect of negotiation I have seen, as he explains why they are important and how you can develop the skills.

He then gets into “the fourteen behaviours that make a difference”. These are really the general “rules” for successful negotiators – so they include points such as “do not allow your sense of fairness to influence behaviour” . That’s an extremely interesting one in itself, and something we could debate at length – perhaps another time. Others are perhaps more obvious .“Plan and prepare using all information available”. But all fourteen get covered in some detail, again full of sensible and useful advice.

There are also sections on emotion, on authority and empowerment, and then a long list of “tactics and values”, with very practical ways to handle negotiation issues. The final chapter is on what Gates calls (and I agree) “the most fundamental element of negotiation” – planning and preparation.

All the way through, there is an emphasis on both what we might call technical negotiation techniques / strategies AND personal behaviours. It also combines some solid intellectual property with practical advice.  Ultimately, it’s bringing together those different elements that makes the book so satisfying and useful.

And that makes it the best book on negotiation I’ve seen since Getting to Yes – and for most practitioners, I’d suggest it is more useful even than that seminal work.  A 100% recommendation.

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