How a Global Leader in High Tech Won Crucial Business

Business Issue

A leading high tech firm was bidding for a crucial outsourcing contract offered by its client, a major automaker. Both global companies were in the Fortune 50 and competition for this business included some of the world's best-known tech firms. Negotiators on the automaker side were known to be particularly skilled and tough, and the high tech firm had formed a huge pursuit team—comprised of scores of internal group leaders—to respond to the automaker's multiple RFPs. The financial stakes for the high tech firm were extremely high; this enterprise client represented a huge investment, and the size and complexity of the business presented the firm with both tremendous opportunity and risk.

The high tech firm needed help pulling off this critical major account negotiation. The company realized that external negotiation skills would be only one success factor; an internal negotiation approach the pursuit team could use to determine which RFPs to pursue, communicate and strategize effectively among themselves, negotiate assertively yet in a manner that would maintain the client relationship, set the stage for future re-negotiations, and more would be just as important to the firm's bottom line.

Solution

The Accordence negotiation model and process is ideally suited to the high-stakes, high-level negotiations required by enterprise accounts—because it gives teams a shared, proven negotiation framework they can use to guide their negotiating approach, assertively win the right business, and sustain profitable client relationships after the deal.
For the high tech firm, Accordence created highly customized versions of its flagship Just Negotiate learning program, and trained pursuit team members and service consultants around the world. First, Accordence worked closely with pursuit team leaders to understand the precise situation they faced, including the differing negotiating styles of the firm and the automaker, how the pursuit team communicated with each other and with other key firm players, and internal challenges the pursuit team might face in determining the point at which it would walk away from business.

Using these and other insights, Accordence developed a version of the interactive Just Negotiate program customized to the firm's current challenge. Just Negotiate gave participants an overview of the Accordence negotiation approach, then challenged them to use it during tailored scenarios to delve deeply into particularly difficult client situations. The program pushed participants to better understand their own negotiating style, for example, a need the firm had identified. This helped participants learn how to deal with key players whose negotiation styles were unorthodox and difficult to counteract—situations that might be encountered during negotiations with the automaker.

The high tech firm's bidding challenge points out the importance of having a strategic process driving internal negotiations, which were in some ways as dramatic as those with the automaker. Even though pursuit team members were all highly skilled before the training, the size and scope of these negotiations required the entire team to be coordinated around a team strategy. The Accordence training delivered what the group had been lacking: a consistent framework for negotiation decision-making, and a shared vocabulary for talking internally (and with the client) about key challenges. Similarly, negotiation success at the large account level is often less about money and more about the scope of resource commitment and the ability to handle multiple scenarios. Just Negotiate gave pursuit team members—some focused on profitability and some on market share—a way to coordinate and be sure they were pursuing the right kind and amount of new business given the firm's other client commitments.

Scores of pursuit team members learned the Accordence methodology, as well as technical personnel who were both involved in the RFP responses and would be part of delivery teams.

Results

Using the Accordence approach to negotiation, the high tech firm achieved these highly significant business results:

  • The firm won the business they pursued, garnering a highly coveted, multi-year relationship as one of the automaker's key outsource providers.
  • The firm was able to successfully counter hard-hitting requests for significant exposure and liability, and negotiate high-quality deal terms.
  • The pursuit team accurately determined which pieces of business were most worth pursuing from a profitability and resource allocation standpoint. They were able to walk away from other potential business without offending the client.
  • The pursuit team used the Accordence negotiating framework to guide internal communications and decision-making, which helped them to keep the external negotiations on track and on time, and present a much more united front to the client, among other key benefits.
  • After the deals were signed, the pursuit team was able to hand off day-to-day account management to appropriate company teams that were well positioned for delivery. These personnel will use the same negotiation framework to handle ongoing contract issues, and have already set the stage for effective re-negotiations in five years.

Accordence has continued to partner with the high tech firm to provide negotiation training, consulting, and coaching for several of its business units in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

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