Successful Supplier Negotiations Part I

Robert Geib
Sep. 29,2016 |

“Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”
Sun Tzu

Most of us know this quote from Sun Tzu's seminal work, "The Art of War", but is it true that EVERY battle is won or lost before it's ever fought?

Well, in context, Sun Tzu was speaking of the great set-piece battles fought at the time, where huge armies would line up and then be sent into the fray to fight.  The battle would go to whoever had prepared best, who brought the best supplies, who had the best planning, who garnered the best intelligence, who held the best control of the ground, whose warriors had the best training, and so on....

But in modern conflicts, this view is over-simplified. Today, many battles are closely balanced, and tiny changes can have big effects.

Good planning is crucial but battles, or supplier negotiations, today are more like poker than chess. You make your moves, often times in ignorance not only of your opponent's moves, but there are myriad ways chance can intervene and turn the odds against you. A good hand can lose, or a bad hand win, even despite optimal play scenarios.

Another element that has changed substantially since Sun Tzu's day is communications. Today, a battle consists of active engagement. The battle plan may not survive first contact with the enemy, but the General formulates a new plan instantly. The ‘evolving plan’ is an integral part of the overall strategy, and is not meant to be set before the battle begins.

However, you must still heed Sun Tzu's advice. Everything must be set up for that strategy to be realized. Reserves must be where they’re most likely to have maximum impact. Communications must be set up so that they are reliable in the din of combat. The old necessities of holding some grounds and ceding others hold true. And you must still have intelligence so that you know your enemy better than he knows himself.

The Art of War is a good place to start, but it is not the only book you must read.

Click here to see Part II - with real world example...


NET(net)’s Website/Blogs/Articles and other content is subject to NET(net)’s legal terms offered for general information purposes only, and while NET(net) may offer its unadulterated views and colorful opinions regarding the subject matter, such views and opinions are not intended to malign or disparage any other company, individual, or group.

About NET(net)

NET(net) is a global disruptive industry force for good and has the experience you want, the expertise you need, and delivers the performance you demand to help you save money and improve value. NET(net) is the world’s only fully technology-enabled consultancy exclusively specializing in full service optimization of the technology supply chain, bringing clients and suppliers together to create winning markets and winning relationships.

We help clients:

  • Find Value in their professional supply chain through strategic sourcing efforts designed to align client need to supplier capabilities while leveraging our objective, evidenced based processes to deliver optimized supplier proposals.
  • Get Value in a custom marketplace created through bespoke supplier negotiation assistance, leveraging our federated market intelligence, resulting in improved commercial arrangements and strengthened contractual agreements.
  • Keep Value in their organization through proactive industry best strategic supplier performance management of the agreement, the investment and the relationship, resulting in better, more sustainable business partnerships designed to deliver long term sustainable business value.

With clients around the world in nearly all industries and geographies, and with the experience of tens of thousands of field engagements, we have helped our clients capture hundreds of billions of dollars of incremental value. Contact your NET(net) representative, email us at, visit us online at, or call us at +1-866-2-NET-net today to see if we can help you capture more value.

Read similar posts below