Importers: Stay away from Hard-Bargaining in China

Negotiate to Build

Hard-bargaining is NOT the key to success. Threats and unreasonable demands may work in the short term but do not DEVELOP relationships. Eventually, you will need help from your factory. If you hard-bargain every time, favors won’t happen.

What does hard-bargaining say about you? It says that you view each deal as either win or lose. Very few negotiations are centred upon single issues, such as price. These deals can indeed be viewed as win-lose or distributive negotiations. However, as the complexity of your needs develop, with the price being only a single factor, hard-bargaining won’t successfully negotiate the contract.

The vast majority of negotiations are multi-faceted. Each challenge provides for you and the exporter an opportunity to create win-wins or mutually beneficial agreements. Proper negotiators creatively identify differences which are used for tradeoffs and contribute towards building long-term trust.

If you negotiate by saying “No” to everything and frame the deal as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, you invitably leave benefits on the table; whether future considerations or deal-specific. Keep in mind that how you treat an exporter is how they’ll treat you in return. Negotiation hardball tactics create cycles of threats and demands. Stick to hard-bargaining and say hello to impasses, distrust, and landing a subpar deal.

10 Hard-Bargaining Tactics & Negotiation Skills

The first part of avoiding an all-or-nothing tactic is to recognize this type of behaviour in yourself. Yes, you must get that price point, and you need delivery for when you need it. However, self-awareness in and outside of business rules and knowing that there are always ways to meet positive goals keeps your thinking creatively. As my dad would say “there are more ways to skin a cat”. Why cats are being skinned is clearly a misonomer but I digress…

Seeing yourself in the equation, as a non hardball negotiator, helps to ready you for a hard-bargaining exporter. You must be able to identify this tactic and effectively counter and defuse it in ways that achieves your many goals. Check out Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes, Robert Mnookin. The authors explain how to not get caught off-guard by hard bargainers.

If building a secure, two-way relationship is not your thing…

Improving your buying skills is important

Here is a list of the 10 hardball tactics in negotiation to watch out for from the authors of Beyond Winning:

  1. Extreme demands followed up by small, slow concessions. Perhaps the most common of all hard-bargaining tactics, this one protects dealmakers from making concessions too quickly. However, it can keep parties from making a deal and unnecessarily drag out business negotiations. To head off this tactic, have a clear sense of your own goals, the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), and bottom line – and don’t be rattled by an aggressive opponent.
  2. Commitment tactics. Your opponent may say that his hands are tied or that he has only limited discretion to negotiate with you. Do what you can to find out if these commitment tactics are genuine. You may find that you need to negotiate with someone who has greater authority to do business with you.
  3. Take-it-or-leave-it negotiation strategy. Offers should rarely be nonnegotiable. To defuse this hard-bargaining tactic, try ignoring it and focus on the content of the offer instead, then make a counter-offer that meets both parties’ needs.
  4. Inviting unreciprocated offers. When you make an offer, you may find that your counterpart asks you to make a concession before making a counteroffer herself. Don’t bid against yourself by reducing your demands; instead, indicate that you are waiting for a counteroffer.
  5. Trying to make you flinch. Sometimes you may find that your opponent keeps making greater and greater demands, waiting for you to reach your breaking point and concede. Name the hard-bargaining tactic and clarify that you will only engage in a reciprocal exchange of offers.
  6. Personal insults and feather ruffling. Personal attacks can feed on your insecurities and make you vulnerable. Take a break if you feel yourself getting flustered, and let the other party know that you won’t tolerate insults and other cheap ploys.
  7. Bluffing, puffing, and lying. Exaggerating and misrepresenting facts can throw you off guard. Be skeptical about claims that seem too good to be true and investigate them closely.
  8. Threats and warnings. Want to know how to deal with threats? The first step is recognizing threats and oblique warnings as the hard-bargaining tactics they are. Ignoring a threat and naming a threat can be two effective strategies for defusing them.
  9. Belittling your alternatives. The other party might try to make you cave in by belittling your BATNA. Don’t let her shake your resolve.
  10. Good cop, bad cop. When facing off with a two-negotiator team, you may find that one person is reasonable and the other is tough. Realize that they are working together and don’t be taken in by such hard-bargaining tactics.

When you find a strong partner-factory in China, don’t allow them or your customers to get close in any way! Having the factory ship direct is obviously asking for trouble but direct shipping saves at least one week. It takes a lot of work to source and develop trusting factory relationships. Keep your suppliers and customers apart. Blind Shipping is the best way to protect your business because it hides your factory. Blind shipped orders are delivered customer direct in two days! Save time, eliminate handling and reshipping. Prevents supply chain predators from cutting you out of the equation. #blindShipping #itseasy


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