Negotiation Challenge Sales vs Procurement!

Sales vs Procurement

This is a shameless plug for my book, co-authored by Elliot Epstein. The book is one of a kind being a dialogue between sales expert Elliot and myself who's background is mostly in procurement. In some ways we are an odd couple, and we rarely agree. However, our disagreements reveal insights about the different perspectives of procurement and sales people, and, as the title says, "secrets unveiled at the negotiation table!"

You can get a flavour of the book by watching some of these promotional videos. Go on, you know that you want to!

If you want to buy the book, you know what to do…



Trailer #1

In this introductory video, Elliot and Paul give an overview of the 22 chapters in our book. Each of the chapters explores in detail a particular negotiation tactic from two perspectives:
  • the sales person's perspective
  • the procurement person's perspective
  • In addition, in chapter 22 , Paul and Elliot review some critical incidents that occurred in actual negotiations as NCSI; Negotiation Crime Scene Investigators and deconstruct what went wrong, and why.

Trailer #2

In this episode, Paul and Elliot discuss chapter 1; cherry picking. Each chapter in the book explores a different negotiation tactic from the twin perspectives of the sales person and the procurement person.

The book is rich in tips tricks and traps and in this chapter we explore why procurement people try to deconstruct a package deal, and what sales people can do if they feel that they are being 'commoditised' or 'picked off' when they are asked to price every line item of the solution in the quote.

Trailer #3

In this episode, Paul and Elliot discuss chapter 3; the "B' team. Do firms offer their 'A' team at the proposal stage and then present a different team at the delivery stage if they are successful?

This sounds like a 'Bait and Switch' tactic, at least to me. Elliot doesn't agree. The challenge when procuring professional services is the often the critical success factor it's not the name of the company on the business card it is the name of the person who will actually be delivering the services. Let's explore some practical tactics in order to ensure that you get the people you thought you were going to get.

Trailer #4

In this episode, Paul and Elliot discuss chapter 20; the BAFO. BAFO is an acronym standing for 'best and final offer' and it is a device which should be used to signal to both participants that the final offer will be considered on its merits with no further negotiation.

Of course Elliot claims that some clients engage in post offer negotiation even when a BAFO offer is received, raising the question 'what is the final offer?' and 'how do you know when the offer you have made is the final offer?'

Trailer #5

The reality is that the business to business sales process has been disrupted by the procurement process and some sales people are not happy.

When the traditional world of a 'nod and a wink' and relationship selling is replaced by proper governance, some sales people feel that their relationships have been sabotaged. Elliot poses the question "What happens when you commence work without a PO, and are then asked (by procurement) for further discounts on the services provided?"

More discussion of ethics and negotiation 'argy bargy' from Elliot (sales) and Paul (procurement)

Trailer #6

It was Marshall McLuhan who said 'the medium is the message'. In this episode, Paul and Elliot explore how the medium of negotiation affects behaviour.

Negotiating by email is fraught with danger and can significantly reduce deal profitability. Elliot (Sales) and Paul (Procurement) discuss better options and explain why they are preferable

Trailer #7

In the old days, when Elliot began his career, the sales process was simple. You wined and dined the prospect, bought them a few drinks and shook hands on the deal. But in the new normal, sales people are kept well away from the real decision-makers. The whole decision-making process may be opaque to the suppliers. Communication may be carefully controlled so that the salesperson never gets to speak to the actual decision maker. Poor Elliot!

In this episode, the question posed is 'Who is The Decision Maker?' Is it a panel or working group with a benchmarked spreadsheet, or is there a Master Decision Maker?

Trailer #8


Probity and good governance require that the bidders in the procurement process are treated equally. One of the things that experienced procurement people have found is that if you disclose your bid evaluation criteria and weightings, some unsuccessful suppliers may claim that their offer was the best, and the decision of the evaluation panel was flawed.

For this reason, procurement people often disclose the evaluation criteria, but do not always disclose the weightings for each criterion. This drives Elliot nuts, (he calls it 'a secret list') and here he works out his frustration on not being able to rig the evaluation process so that his bid wins.