Negotiating with suppliers, dealing with stakeholders; procurement professionals are faced with the need to persuade and influence people on a regular basis. Whether you are negotiating better budgets for your team or better prices for your contracts, knowing how to work the situation to your advantage is extremely valuable. So how can you fine-tune your influencing skills and make negotiations work in your favour?

  1. Find A Common Ground

It’s one of the age-old ways of making a human connection with someone; finding something in common. It could be anything from disgust at the bad weather/elation at the brilliant weather, a shared interest, anything that shows you empathise with them in some way. That feeling of being connected in some way can then be used as a springboard to building trust.

  1. Show How You Can Solve Their Problem

Before pitching your new proposed contract, first, consider how it’s going to benefit the supplier. What problems is it likely to solve for them? You could find this out through research, but you may also need to ask some questions and think on your feet during the negotiation.

Once you know their main problems/concerns, you can show how your proposal will solve them and benefit the supplier.

  1. Be Ready For An Argument

There will always be reasons for the supplier or stakeholder to oppose your pitch. Be ready for these common complaints with a series of answers that counter them.  Try to look at your pitch from the receiving end before you go in there and consider all the arguments that could arise against it. Now consider how you can respond to persuade them to be for it, not against it.

  1. Persist, Persist and Persist Some More

Keep reaching out to those people that aren’t yet on board with your proposal. For fear of annoying people, we often hold back when someone says no the first or second time. But persistence often leads to a win if you time it correctly and take the right approach.

Circumstances often change, so regularly reaching out to people who have previously been reluctant can mean a change of heart.

  1. Research Is Key

People care about themselves, no matter how much they deny it. So take the time to research the key people you will be dealing with during your negotiation. Use your new-found knowledge of them to connect on a personal level.

It could help you to find that common ground mentioned in point one. People will also warm to you knowing that you have taken the time and interest in their life/work. This will make them more open to what you have to say.

It’s also impressive to business people if you remember things they spoke about when you last saw them. Whenever you learn something about a person, such as their favourite restaurant, their kid’s and partner’s names, where they were going on holiday, take note. Keep a database of information like this along with your research and refer to it whenever you next meet that person. It will deepen your connection with them and make them warm to you.

  1. Use The Person’s Name

It’s a very basic, sub-conscious response when you hear your own name to become more responsive. Some of the most persuasive leaders in the world will work a person’s name into the conversation just enough to build their ego but not enough that it appears obvious. Try it in your next negotiation and see how the person’s response differs.

  1. “Mirror” The Person

It’s been revealed by numerous studies that we not only communicate through our words but through our bodies as well. Body language can be a key part of our influencing skills and how a person reacts to what you are saying.

Salespeople are taught to use a technique called “mirroring” to build trust between themselves and the customer. This involves analysing the customer’s body language and subtly adjusting your own to match it in certain ways. This helps to build rapport with the person you are talking to, which will then make it easier to persuade them.

  1. It’s All About Confidence

Being confident, but not arrogant, in business is key to success. If you demonstrate confidence in yourself and what you are saying, this will encourage people to feel confident in you/what you are proposing too.


Find out how to improve your influencing skills for procurement with a CIPS Diploma in Procurement and Supply. To find out more about our CIPS courses and how to get your two-week free trial, contact us or call our team on 01865 515255.