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Watch Out for the C-Level Ego Wild Card

If you're in the thick of negotiating a software deal with a vendor like Microsoft, you've got to keep an eye on one wild card: C-level ego. Forget about technicalities and long-winded contract clauses for a minute. We're talking about human psychology, and it's often the stumbling block in sealing a sensible deal.

How a Software Vendor Exploits Ego

Microsoft's sales teams are shrewd. They know that the way to an executive's heart is through ego-stroking. Why? Because when the ego is involved, it clouds judgment. We're talking about decisions that should be based on concrete factors like value, scalability, and long-term ROI. But throw in a VIP lunch or a promise of a strategic partnership, and suddenly, it's a different game. Now the C-suite might overlook the unfair terms you've been busting your arse to correct.

Sidestepping Procurement: The Risk to Your Negotiations

You know how this goes. Microsoft sidesteps procurement, reaches the C-suite, and your months of negotiation efforts are blown to smithereens. And trust me, they have a full deck of cards to play—things like dangling the promise of exclusive features, hints at deeper strategic alignments, and, of course, schmoozing.

The Plan: Three Key Steps

So, what's the plan?

  1. Pre-empt the Ego Play: Alert your C-suite about these tactics well in advance. Make them aware that their involvement should be strategic and not transactional. Hammer this in: Their role is governance, not operations. The minute they roll up their sleeves to involve themselves in vendor negotiations, they're doing your job, and they're not doing theirs.

  2. Lock In Your Strategy: Share it with the C-suite. Make sure they understand the strategy, not just the numbers. It's not just about getting a lower price; it's about getting a deal that fits like a glove with your organisation's needs.

  3. Control the Conversation: Keep the lines of communication open, but make sure it's you the vendors are talking to. If a Microsoft rep tries to bypass you and engage directly with your executives, be swift and firm in intercepting. Reiterate the protocol: all vendor communications go through you.

The Bottom Line: Ego vs Value

In a nutshell, don't let the C-suite become the weakest link. Coach them to be an asset in the negotiation, not a liability. Because the minute ego walks into the negotiation room, value walks out. Don't let that happen.

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