As any skilled commercial painter will tell you, it's the preparation work that paves the way to a great job. Contract negotiation is essentially the same process. Firms that succeed in today's commerce world understand that preparation is key and without it you risk failing. It is that simple.
I suggest that before starting any negotiation or dialogue to obtain goods or services, ask the questions 'What, Who and When' to kick your procurement planning off to a great start. Some key planning steps to start your quest off would be to know and document all your firm's contract requirements and research and determine who the best players are to contract with. Can you afford the product or service market costs and what limit is there to your procurement funding? Your firm's finance leader and someone with the appropriate contract commitment authority should be on side in advance of any negotiation. Your ultimate goal is to be able to choose a quality supplier that will be there to support your business in the long-term. Finally, and only when you have completed your preliminary work, is it time to sit down at the negotiation table.
Your investment in planning and research time will pay off many times over during the next phase of procurement...........the negotiation. You must always remember, however, the company's future depends on your preparation and planning.