One of the biggest threats to the printing industry is straight-line negotiation – here’s what to do about it

Ever feel you’ve been on the end of a bad deal?

It’s happened to us all. We’ve negotiated hard but we haven’t got what we’ve wanted. We’ve coming away feeling that we’re worse off than the buyer. We feel that they’ve screwed every last penny out of us.

It’s not a good feeling. You are often left wondering if you could have done something to even things up a little. However, you were probably in a straight-line negotiation. If that was the case then there’s probably not a lot you could have done.

So what’s straight-line negotiation?

You are more likely to feel like this at the end of a negotiation if you add enough variables

You are more likely to feel like this at the end of a negotiation if you add enough variables

A straight-line negotiation is when you are trying to reach an agreement and there is only one variable. Typically, this is price. Schedule is another common single variable.

If you only have one thing to talk about you progress along a straight line. If you are discussing price it stays up or it goes down. And that’s it.

Straight line negotiation leads to win-lose situations

Typically, either the buyer forces the price down or the sales person has the only possible solution for the buyer and keeps the price high. So one party wins and the other loses. These days, with the huge amounts of capacity in print, it is often the print sales person who loses!

Another outcome is that occasionally both parties meet in the middle. But then no-one is really happy!

So what’s the solution?

Add some other variables into the conversation. If you are just talking about price, try adding in scheduling, finishing options or delivery variables. These may allow you to move on price without losing so much. Or you may be able to offer something extra and keep the price where you wanted.

Remember, buyers who are talking to you usually want to deal with you

Yes, they want to feel that they have a good deal. But you should get something out of the deal too. You don’t have to feel that you have been on the end of a bad deal.
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