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Procurement’s Rising Star, Ep #77

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I’m really excited to have Siddharth (Sid) Ramesh on this week’s show. Sid is the manager of strategic sourcing in the technology space at VSP Global, where he’s been for 5 years. His career is on a meteoric rise. He’s been nominated for a SIG Future of Sourcing Rising Star Award and he’s a trusted source for everything related to procurement. In addition to being super smart he’s really nice—definitely one of the good guys.

Sid talks about supplier negotiations in the technology space including the myth about having to be the tough guy. He shares insights on the unequivocal need for planning and having the confidence to appreciate the need for continuous learning and training. My prediction is that Siddharth Ramesh is going to be the next big thing when it comes to procurement and sourcing.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:06] Sid’s background in procurement
  • [6:03] Training with Negotiations Ninja
  • [8:14] Supplier negotiations in the technology space
  • [10:14] How to prepare for difficult negotiations
  • [12:18] The Negotiations Ninja framework
  • [14:10] Challenges with achieving internal alignment
  • [18:05] The key to Sid’s success
  • [20:30] Why you should invest in training
  • [23:06] What is the SIG Rising Star Award?
  • [25:34] How to connect with Siddharth

Supplier negotiations in the technology space

People tend to think that you should always be a “tough guy” that sticks with his or her position and doesn’t budge. But Sid believes that you should work out scenarios where you’re okay to make concessions and still get what you want. People think that it’s hard to negotiate. But the truth is that you just have to plan and prepare. Find the levers that you can pull. Sometimes things don’t happen how you expect them to and it’s part of the learning process.

How to prepare for difficult negotiations

What does it take to get ready? Sid recommends starting with planning and preparing. Gather all of the information that relates to the negotiation. The next step is ensuring you have a strong stakeholder team that is completely aligned with the negotiation strategy. They must be involved in the development of the plan. He also recommends using a negotiation framework to lay everything out. It helps you determine the target outcomes and nail down the right strategy.

The Negotiations Ninja framework provided the structure Sid’s team needed. It’s methodical and fact-based. It’s easy to communicate across a broad range of stakeholders. It helps you document and understand where your positions are and how far you can flex them. The key is practicing setting a structure for every negotiation.

Challenges with achieving internal alignment

Sid emphasizes that you need to clearly understand the stakeholder priorities. Open and clear lines of communication are important. Without that, it can be difficult to determine that the stakeholder’s priorities are. Procurement’s goals are always cost-saving, adding value, reducing risk, etc. whereas sometimes stakeholders want product/goods/services in at the fastest rate possible. Understanding the priorities can help set the negotiation framework.

Negotiations can be internal negotiations with your stakeholders. You need to prepare for those conversations just as much as the external negotiations. Internal stakeholders tend to make assumptions. There needs to be information sharing and collaborating. Just because they are internal stakeholders doesn’t mean they’ll be on your team. You need to do the work to ensure that you’re on the same page.

The key(s) to Sid’s success

Sid’s response? Preparation. People gloss over that fact. But things get missed that could’ve gotten caught if you’d prepared in advance. Sid also says to treat all stakeholders with respect and be transparent. It goes a long way to establish credibility. Another key thing you need as an effective negotiator is to be attentive, have attention to detail, and to listen. Listen and observe and use it to your advantage. It takes patience. You can’t be thinking of the next question and not listen to what is being said. You can’t zone out.

Sid also believes that training is 100% worth investing in. Find ways to engage with thought leaders in the space. Keep learning new skills. It will bring a whole new dimension to the maturity level of a procurement organization. Let the results speak to the worthiness of the investment you put in. Focus on continuous learning and development. There are so many things happening in the procurement world. Everyone is talking about digitization and new technologies. There will always be something to learn. Listen to the episode to hear more of Sid’s thoughts on the world of procurement.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Siddharth Ramesh

Episode Sponsor

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