Sunday, January 22, 2012

Negotiations With Companies

Negotiations happen all the time in the entertainment industry. However most of them do not end with a fire fight, unless fought in game. (That would be amazing) To get a little more inside detail on how negotiations play out, I sat down and spoke with Will Stoneham about negotiations that he goes through on a daily basis. Will is the New Media Director at Hickory Grove Baptist Church where he works alongside contractors and companies to build apps, websites, and media. Make the jump to read our conversation.

Me: "How would you describe your experience with negotiating contracts with different companies?"

WS: "Most of the negotiations are positive. When working with companies, as an organization, I find that they are well established. For the most part, they have preset contracts that come with a little wiggle room. Most of these companies are forthright, truthful, and try to offer the best price at first glance."

Me: "So, I take it you have had some negative experiences?"

WS: "You bet. Once we hammer out the deal, sometimes I find that what we meant is not what they meant. For example, on one project we were going to have an add on put on after it's launch. After following up with said company, did we find that there had been no communication with the rest of the team who built it. On another project, we had a company promise X product would be delivered with free updates every six months. Once the contract was signed, we found that the updates did not come to us. After contacting this company, we found out that they were bought out. Once they heard that we did not get what was owed, the new company said that they would provide extra items on top of the current agreement. After a few months, they still had not delivered what they promised. Currently, we are in contract negotiations with this company. We are not going to sign a new contract until they deliver what they still owe us. To be fair, this company has been purchased two more additional times."

Me: "Is this company offering anything in compensation on its bad promises?"

WS: "Yes. They are offering software and hardware now, but they want us to sign first before delivering. We are currently at a stalemate until one side gives. Our terms are that we are not going to sign until the original promises are in good standings."

Me: "Does working for a church affect your approach to negotiations?"

WS: "Most certainly. When dealing with a client that is behind a due date, we do not get angry. However, this does not mean that we cut all of our clients slack. We have to be firm sometimes."

Me: "To do this, do you get personal?"

WS: "No.  I remove my emotions from the equation. If I have to be firm I will. As much as I want them to like me, sometimes I have to be a little tough. When I do get tough, I make sure that I am respectful."

Me: "My last question for you, do you have any tips or tricks for negotiations?"

WS: "Yes. Know everything that you are going to receive. That is, spell it out on paper. Do not be afraid to walk away from a company, when needed.  Sometimes a company will never deliver. My reply to them is that "You are not the right solution for us." Always stay on top of the clients to follow progress. Lastly, get everything in writing. If you have a phone conversation with a client, email them the results of the email. Also, email, email, email, email and email. This will leave you written documentation of everything. It will help in the long run."

Me: "Will, thanks for taking the time to sit down with me. I appreciate it. Some great information here."

WS: "No problem."

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