In over two decasdes of conducting seminars and workshops for fellow purchasing pros, all have voiced one constant refrain. Everyone’s goal is “to become more comfortable, confident, and competent in negotiations.”

Needs and solutions

Businesses must constantly train buyers in negotiation, the core competency of the profession. When sales skyrocket, negotiation training controls costs. When sales collapse, negotiation provides much to all of the profitability.
In today’s economic climate, the question of which training medium and associated costs is top of mind. Traditional in house customized training is best but also most expensive while self study through books, manuals, CD/DVD, and online courses is more convenient. No matter your choice, the credentials and recommendations of the training service provider makes all the difference.
Selecting a negotiation training for buyers

Most commercially available negotiation training is presented from the slant of sales, legal, or academic worlds. Buyers want the material to be presented and developed by an expert who has earned chops in their trade. This means having worked at the buying profession and continuing such work on a frequent consulting basis. He or she should have earned professional designations such as Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP). Most importantly, ascertain and verify references of polished speaking, presentation, and adult education & training skills and accomplishments.

Call the trainer to talk one on one. Most large training houses will not connect you with their staff who are generally poorly paid and inadequately skilled. Most have little depth beyond the printed page of the manual before them. These sources are particularly bad choices for corporate clients with demands for customized regimes. While something is better than nothing, the adage of getting what one pays for applies.


• One thousand days of seminar and workshops should be the minimum that your trainer has under the belt. There is no substitute for time on the feet in front of thousands of individuals to hone the skills.
• Demand and verify references. A successful veteran trainer can produce a vault full of written references and contacts with past clients.
• Contributions to the profession must include not only earned professional designations but published articles, books, CDs and DVDs, and the like at o help fellow pros improve their performance
• Education resources are valuable follow on resources for seminar participants. These include fully customized high quality training manuals and handouts that reflect your company’s unique situations
Exercise driven and interactive content; adults learn best by doing Brief lecture and frequent spot and formal exercises drive participant satisfaction and crystallize the learning. The exercises must reflect workplace challenges and not merely regurgitate generic examples

How is all this done

Most of the time, it is not done, certainly not by the large training houses who have been using the same material for decades. Your service provider must engage in preparation such as
• Instruments Pre and Post Assessments benefit the participant and client. The Pre Assessment establishes the base line and reveals challenges that may not have been envisioned. It can also divulge ample exercise material to incorporate into the program. The Post Assessment, when compared to the Pre provides a quantitative measure of progress and an effective client gauge to measure ROI.
• Questionnaires and Interviews These in depth studies of the individual client are crucial to successful customization
• Tools a Negotiation Template is standard in my programs as well as other analyses as appropriate. Your trainer/supplier should also under promise and over deliver.

What does it cost and what else should you get

A good rule of thumb is between $250 and $350 per participant per day, depending upon the trainer’s fee, educational resources provided, and market factors. Doing the math for a two day seminar for thirty people, the range is between $15,000 and $21,000. Over seas travel or other extraordinary expenses will add to the total.
If you choose the right trainer/supplier, and have a multiple day program, demand the trainer/supplier write a consulting report on observations and make recommendations based upon experience and knowledge.

The moral of the story: to get the most for your training investment, hire a proven pro.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Menard, Certified Purchasing Professional and Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant, is a purchasing & sales negotiation expert and author of "You're the Buyer - You Negotiate It!" He serves clients worldwide through professional purchasing, consulting, and negotiation roles.

For more information on negotiation, purchasing and sales, visit the blog,