I received this e-mail this morning. And I have been asked versions of this for as long as I have worked here.
Joel, I know we are all in business to make money, but when I read what Steve wrote it sounds like he lied to our vendor to get a discount. I also know that core value number one is Ethics. Are we crossing a line by doing this? Not trying to ruffle feathers, just want to understand.
So I thought I’d write a blog and give you my thoughts on this subject. The topic is always up for opinion. This is just mine.
Negotiating is not only ETHICAL but A KEY COMPONENT to ANY successful business.
We are ALWAYS SELLING AND ALWAYS NEGOTIATING. That IS business. No different then sports are measured in wins and losses.
In a perfect world of course every interaction would have everyone’s VERY BEST interest in mind and then bear a small profit for each person involved and equal shares of everything. In sports, every team wins, we give out medals to all…
This ISN’T a perfect world. There are winners…and losers… and everything in between. Ultimately we find the best deal…and that is WORK.
Part of negotiation tactics ARE deception. Bluffing. Whatever term you want to use. I don’t think most people would considering bluffing unethical, although perhaps some will. Some people I assume would also consider 56 mph in a 55mph zone also a sin. Or playing poker. Or being sarcastic. I am not one of those people. I consider bluffing A KEY INGREDIENT in negotiation. But be prepared to walk away if our bluff is called. We CAN do that with integrity…. we can maintain integrity and be bold at the same time… see the bottom of the e-mail for some cool Bible quotes that use integrity and boldness for reference.
If you simply rely on “is this your best price” and the vendor says yes it is… you are quite naive, I’d go so far as to call you a fool… as this is not how negotiations work. It is ok to ask for a deal. It is ok to find a bargain. It is also a trainable position, and many of us here are trained specifically to negotiate. We/I have read dozens of books and articles, learned from experience, trained together. That doesn’t mean they are unethical or Un-Christian, it just means they are bargaining.
There are many techniques used, and if you want help with that please reach out to me or any of our merchants for training.
The livelihood, yes the actually reason WE STAY IN BUSINESS is because we NEGOTIATE. You wouldn’t have a career here, we couldn’t give back to charities…we couldn’t CHANGE THE WORLD without negotiations.
Again, let’s not live in a fog where we believe people, especially billion dollar publicly traded companies that are giving us their best price on their first try…we know from experience they are not.
If we were negotiating to the point where people LOST MONEY with NO PROFIT, or if we held payment back because we were short material when we were not (a tactic used by Walmart as told to me by a Walmart vendor) or if we made up lies to not pay to our agreed to price… yes then ETHICALLY we would have large problems and that Drexel team member would most certainly be fired.
Now NEGOTIATING PRIOR TO A PURCHASE ORDER is the point where simply two partners are working to agree to a MUTUALLY AGREED TO PRICE.
REMEMBER WE NEGOTIATE WITH OUR VENDORS NOT AGAINST. They give us a price, we ask them to reconsider for several reasons and they come back to us with a price. We don’t, like the mafia, literally hold a gun to their head. THEY AGREE to our mutually agreed to price. That’s fair, ethical AND WORLD CLASS BUSINESS PRACTICES.
NOT negotiating because it makes YOU uncomfortable… is NOT doing your job. We MUST negotiate to ensure our profits. NO NEGOTIATING… LESS OR NO PROFITS.
Fearing an ethical problem negotiating would be like, calling it an ethical problem when a football team runs a trick play. That is a bluff, that is deception, but that is certainly not UN ethical.
Negotiations are SUPPOSED to be messy, difficult, and uncomfortable. But as Drexel or as me, Joel, when I shake your hand WE HAVE A DEAL. Our word on a deal is gold.
It’s been said, “A fair deal leaves both sides unhappy.” George R.R. Martin.
In many deals I feel this way. I believe in that statement both sides must concede but yet win for a fair deal to happen.
I’ve negotiated thousands and thousands of deals in my life. I believe those people I negotiated with found me tough but fair, and fun to work with even in the battles. And afterwards we can celebrate and both move forward and have a beer together. That is at least the legacy I hope I leave. I hope that is the legacy we leave in the industry —tough but fun and fair— Drexel.
Of course this is up for debate, and I am not God, a priest, nor a pastor…I’m just a regular dude. This is just what I believe is true.
Maintain Your Integrity
“Debate your cause with your neighbor himself, and do not disclose a secret to another; lest he who hears it put you to shame, and your reputation be ruined” (Prov. 25:9-10).
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it crushes the spirit” (Prov. 15:4).
Perhaps the greatest testimony during negotiations is to maintain your integrity.
“Be strong and of a good courage. Fear not, nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, it is He who goes with you. He will not fail you, nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9).
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).
When you know the Lord is directing your steps, it is good and right to stand firm and be bold. Non-Christians expect us to wimp out or cave in. After Pentecost, not one of the Lord’s apostles wimped out. Neither should we.