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Matthew Parker, a member of the Independent Print Industries Association (IPIA), has published a book for people looking to get better results in print negotiations – The Print Industry Negotiation Handbook. The book is aimed at people within the print industry, but PSE spoke to Parker to get some insight on what customers in the public sector can do to get better results.


egotiations are often seen as zero-sum games, with a winner and a loser. But with

the public sector keen to cut costs and make effi ciencies wherever it can, and print suppliers keen to offer new services, it doesn’t have to be.

Matthew Parker, author of ‘The Print Industry Negotiation Handbook’, published in May, told PSE: “Negotiation should be a win-win situation. The role of a good negotiator is to win a little bit more than the other party but it shouldn’t get to win-lose.

“Both parties need to understand what they need to get out of the negotiation. They need to understand when they should walk away; that’s a common issue in print negotiation – sometimes people are so desperate to do the deal. It’s like eBay, isn’t it? You are so desperate to get something that you keep bidding and bidding, and then discover you could have bought it cheaper brand new.”

In this way, negotiating over potential print services is similar to negotiations for any other business service. Parker said: “Buyers should be as open as possible with what they are trying to achieve. But there has got to be something in it for the supplier as well. If it is going to be a long-term relationship, it does have to be a win-win situation.

“Flexibility and openness are the name of the game. And before getting to that point, do lots of research fi rst to make sure you know you’re heading down the right track. It’s horrible for

anyone to be in negotiations where they have to do an about-turn and completely change what they’re doing, because that can throw the negotiations out of kilter and it can stop people from trusting the negotiator.”

Parker went on: “When I run face-to-face negotiation training, I go through one of the exercises at the beginning of the day, and people just go for it – and they are not always as open as they might be. Quite often the exercise gets bogged down; it’s designed to show this.

“People wonder where they went wrong. Often the negotiation wasn’t what people who are taking part in it were expecting to happen, and we talk about that and they say ‘Well, if only

mean what you

He said: “Some of the larger companies, the print management companies, are managing this very well. The tenders that are out there require a huge variety of work, so a lot of the larger companies are able to respond quite effectively to those tenders.

“But for the smaller printers I think it is diffi cult for them to respond as they’d like to, because they are not getting together and thinking about creating a consortium and working in new ways to win business, which is a great shame.

“But it is quite a complicated thing for them to set up, if they are used to running their own company – moving to working with other partners.

I’d known that beforehand’. Things could have gone so much further if they had tried to be a bit more open with each other.”

Another important message is familiar to public sector managers dealing with shrinking budgets: quality vs cost. Parker said: “If all you are going to negotiate on is price, it either works or it doesn’t and you are left in a diffi cult situation. If you have a good set of conceptual goals you know if you are going to be pushed on price, is there something you want in return? I’ve got a goal setting system called NICE that encourages people to set goals in certain ways, which means they can then negotiate much more fl exibly afterwards.”

With huge budget pressures throughout the public sector, we asked Parker how he thought the print industry had responded to the new fi nancial situation for customers in the sector.

“The print management companies will subcontract nearly all their work to smaller companies, but obviously the smaller companies aren’t working with the client. So it is not always to the advantage of a smaller company, because they are being asked to take a view on an agreement that is of much larger potential value than the size of the tender that has been put out by the public sector client. So that can leave them in a bit of a tough place sometimes.”

He concluded: “Print is still important and we still desperately need printers out there, but if printers are going to get the best deals, they probably need to think about diversifying their services slightly and coming up with more opportunities so they can offer more varied service to their clients. It becomes a broader win-win situation.

“And those are the sort of things that, when you bring them in, can make all the difference in a negotiation as well.”


For details and to get the handbook, visit: http://profi negotiation-handbook-information/

public sector executive Jul/Aug 12 | 63

Matthew Parker

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