Stories by Joe Auer

Jupiter Media Forum: Broadband is in eye of beholder

Here's a strategy you can use to help gain and maintain negotiating strength. The key to this called the "salami" strategy is to disclose your goals to prospective vendors a few slices of information at a time, rather than give them the whole salami when they ask what it takes to do a deal.

One bite at a time

Here's a strategy you can use to help gain and maintain negotiating strength. The key to this called the "salami" strategy is to disclose your goals to prospective vendors a few slices of information at a time, rather than give them the whole salami when they ask what it takes to do a deal.

Manage the contract

Let's look at another of the truths of technology deal-making that can help you wind up with the best possible terms. The goal is not only to negotiate a great deal, but also to ensure that what you negotiated is what you get when the ink is dry. Contract management is essential, even critical, in pulling this off.

Gain an edge from vendor presentations

Negotiating a better deal is an ongoing process, not an isolated event. One of the steps you can use to turn the process to your advantage is to get a vendor presentation. Savvy IT managers usually require vendors to make presentations of their proposed solutions. A vendor presentation can be an excellent opportunity to gain concessions well before the formal face-to-face bargaining starts.

Not in the contract, not part of the deal

If it's not part of the contract, it's not part of the deal. This is one of 10 truths in technology deal making, and it's an important one whenever you negotiate, regardless of the state of the economy or your relationship with a vendor.

Beware of vendors bearing year-end 'gifts'

It's that time of year when many suppliers offer their year-end specials - price discounts and additional goodies - if you sign now. Their motivation is to show year-to-year sales growth and higher incremental profits with a resulting higher stock price.

Fee Ploy Backfires in Supplier's Face

During recent negotiations for a lower rate with a professional services supplier, a customer faced this ploy: The supplier said, "If we lower our fee, we can't give you our best consultants." This immediately conjured up all kinds of thoughts in the customer's mind. He responded, "How much are your worst consultants? What about your mediocre consultants? What kind of deal can we get on them? Can I have a combo platter? Some of your best with a few mediocre ones?" The questions changed the dynamics of the discussion and pointed out how absurd the supplier's statement was. It also told the supplier that the customer wasn't about to fall for this line.

Hold on to These Negotiation Truths

Information technology deals are complicated. And so are the tools and tactics we sometimes use to make them. But many times, simple truths work best. For example, the best advice is to never give away your negotiating power before negotiations. The following tenets will give you a great start in keeping the power on your side of the table.

Guest column: Customer's silence yields better deal

Here's a savvy business practice that's not just something talked about in MBA programs: it's cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and get a new one. If you're negotiating with a supplier and stuck between a rock and a hard place, think about using this to your advantage, like one company did recently.

Contracts Should Also Cover 'Change Control'

If you change something in a deal with an existing supplier, you could have a challenge on your hands. Unfortunately, many IT customers don't anticipate these changes very well, if at all. And when they don't anticipate and manage changes, vendors' profits skyrocket.

IT as Profit Center? It Can Be Done

The temptation - and sometimes pressure - for IT departments to market their services externally and become, in essence, profit centers can be great. These "suppliers" have some very distinct advantages and disadvantages in the marketplace.

Vendor-Management Programs Can Pay Off

A small but growing number of companies are implementing programs to assertively manage relationships with key vendors. With the ever-increasing influence that technology vendors and their products exert on business capabilities, customers see the need to manage these resources more carefully to ensure they accomplish their strategies.

Creating 'Zones of Consideration'

We often have the ability to generate significant negotiation power to achieve our objectives in any deal for a product or service. By creating a "zone of consideration" to evaluate and negotiate with more than one qualified supplier, we can leverage our control of the process. But too many times we give away our power before negotiations even begin.

Rules to Live By in Licensing Software

Software is protected by copyright law, which says the copyright holder has all the rights and you don't have any, except those you have been specifically granted. So, to do a user-friendly software deal, all we have to do is accurately predict all the uses we may have for the software and what changes we will make as an organization. We also have to figure out all the ways the vendor will try to charge us new fees for what we already paid for and build appropriate rights, remedies and flexibilities into the contract to effectively deal with those. Really straightforward, really simple, but not really easy.

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