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10 minute readKnowledge is Power in Any Negotiation

Know What You Know

Before entering into any negotiation, in order to tip the scales in your favor, you need to collect as much information as you can and learn how to use it well. The best outcome is a win-win. This is the second blog in our series on Negotiation.

Learn Everything You Can

You need to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how, before you even begin your negotiation. The more you know, the better you can express your desires; the better you can gauge what is reasonable and what isn’t; and you’ll know when to just walk away.

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?

Many of these Ws are two-part. The question of who is not only who is buying the product or service, but who is selling. Are you a big fish in a small pond? Is the seller new to the market and eager to land any sale at all? The Who question has a third and fourth element: who else wants to buy, and who else sells? Are there more buyers or sellers in the market? We all know the law of supply and demand and the effect on prices. Now is also the time to consider any flexibility that exists. Will you only consider name brands from OEMS (Original Equipment Manufacturers) or are you open to third party supply and maintenance providers, especially if they save you money?

The better you know what your needs are, the better position you can create for yourself in the negotiation process. If you define your needs loosely – to upgrade some hardware – then you will have too many options to reasonably review all of your choices. Narrow your focus. Do you need to replace one asset? Several assets? Do they need to be replaced or is it time for an upgrade? How much storage, for instance, do you need and how long do servers need to last? This information takes time to collect, but it’s important in your negotiation process.

When does this have to be accomplished? Is a warranty ending or are EOL/EOSL dates approaching? Is your current equipment simply too expensive to maintain? Are breakages causing downtime? Some of this may have been discovered in the what question above. In addition, do you have budgetary restrictions? Do you need to spend budgeted funds this fiscal year? If so you might want to purchase storage units that you know you’ll eventually need. In such a case the what may not be as important as the when. Do you have the funds in next year’s budget, so you’re doing your research now but are not yet ready to buy? In that case, know that you’ll go to the bottom of a sales rep’s list. They won’t forget you, but they are looking at imminent sales, not eventual purchases (that may or may not happen).

Where – is location relevant? Today, it is possible to troubleshoot from across the globe. Do you need to limit yourself by geography? If not, you have the entire world at your feet. You have just introduced yourself to a huge array of opportunities when it comes to service, availability, and price.

Of course, the reason for your purchase is uppermost in your mind: the Why. Is this purchase being made for preventive reasons? Are you finding yourself in a desperate situation? Is this to use funds in your budget before the end of the year? Is it routine because you are the person who always thinks ahead in order to prevent any unexpected challenges? One way to keep costs low is to keep up with maintenance. IT equipment is just like other types of assets – the better you treat them, the longer they’ll last. So why is this purchase important?

Another point of why is related to who. Who requested and is pushing for the work? If the reason you’re making the purchase is because the C-suite has ordained it, that gives a whole other level of impetus to your search.

Finally, how are you going to go about your search? The decision making process is a good place to start: Define your need, consider your options and the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative, make your decision, then perform a post mortem to ensure that you made the best decision. Of course, information leading to knowledge, is your first step.


It takes two. No sale can be completed without two (or more) people coming to a mutually satisfying solution. Your first step, especially if you’re new to an industry or the task at hand, but it’s even good to return to the basics every now and then to ensure you are doing a great job, is to do your homework and collect information.

Where to Collect Information?

  • Websites. Visit not only the company from whom you plan to purchase, but from their competitors.
  • Observation. What do you see others doing, and why?
  • Colleagues and friends. People you know have information as well as opinions, based on their experience.
  • Experts. People love to share their knowledge when asked politely. Learn from others.
  • Industry periodicals. Information is available at your fingertips.
  • Employees. If you can find someone who works for the vendor you might glean some great insights into what is the best option as well as why.
  • Social media. Use social media as a resource.
  • Civic organizations. You meet great people in your community and probably share some commonalities.
  • Networking. This goes along with community organizations. Meet people who have knowledge, and be the person who shares knowledge.
  • Company brochures. Ask and you will receive. You will receive a lot.
  • News stories. What companies are in the news and why? Perform some quick and easy research.

What Information to Collect?

Of course, what information you need depends on your situation, but again, the more you know, the better. Some ideas of what to learn:

  • Motive for the purchase: Fixing a problem? General maintenance?
  • Products. Learn specific details based on your defined wants.
  • Prices. Collect prices from several sources and gauge how set in stone they are. Are there discounts available? Does your company require a minimum number of bids?
  • Competition. Are there options or only one vendor?
  • New technology entering the market and effects on the purchase.
  • Distribution. What is included? When is the product available?
  • Who has authority?
  • How much can you negotiate with your contact person?
  • What objections might be raised? Forewarned is forearmed. Price? Availability? Delivery date? Delivery method?
  • Be aware that you cannot assume logical or rational responses. Emotions should not, but do, get in the way in negotiations.

How Much Information to Collect?

Again, this question has two parts: First, you need to be as specific as possible when you are collecting information so that you can compare apples to apples. Once you know exactly what you want, then you can start requesting quotes.

Know how many bids you want. Does your company require a minimum number of bids? Three is the norm, but get as many as you need. Just realize that the more information you want, the longer it will take to gather, and the longer it will take to process. Usually three is a safe number to ensure the numbers are in the ballpark. You can always collect more information later, especially if you realize that more details are needed to ensure apples to apples comparisons.

What to do with Your Knowledge?

Now that you’ve done your homework and collected your information, how do you put your knowledge to use? Can you use the numbers you’ve collected and work with more than one company? Is there room for negotiation?

If so, if there is room for negotiation, then when is the best time to negotiate? Answer: as early as possible. Don’t play games. Immediately start communicating your needs and desires. Set up a positive environment and be as transparent as you can be. A smile can be heard. Be willing to compromise. Compromise is often the best choice so you can create a win-win situation.

Pro Tip: If there is one single, most important point of negotiation, it is this: Be willing to walk away. Don’t play games, but if it’s not going to work, simply walk away and start over. Yes, you may lose time, but you considered that before you walked away. Yes, I have seen people literally chase people as the client walked away. If you walked away, there was a reason for it, so keep walking.

What is negotiable?

In a word: Everything. Price, delivery date and method, payment terms, credit, physical attributes. This is why it’s important to know, from the beginning, what your specific needs are. You need to know what is important and can’t be compromised so that you don’t make a mistake.

Where to Find Help

Reliant Technology, recently acquired by Park Place Technologies, can help you with your data center decisions, no matter where you are in the decision making process. If you are collecting information, our engineers will help with questions that you should be asking as well as supplying answers. If you are having trouble sourcing the parts you need, we can help you with that, as well as provide affordable prices. If you are in the market for new or refurbished equipment, at a rate 50%, or more, lower than OEM prices, we can help you with that as well as disposition of your old assets. Our team of experts is here to work with you so that every situation is a win-win, where you get great service at a great price and we get a satisfied and loyal customer.

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Lindy Earl

by Lindy Earl

Content Strategist with a long career in Marketing. Her degrees are from Virginia Tech and The College of William and Mary. Lindy writes in four genres, including IT. Lindy is speaking on the topic, How to Get the Best Deals When Purchasing IT Equipment, at the IAITAM Conference in May 2022 in Las Vegas.

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As Data Center and storage experts, Reliant Technology is available to provide consultations and solutions to your server backup needs. Our experienced engineers and IT specialists are ready to help you determine the best option for your Data Center. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, or if you would like to submit an article for possible publication, please, get in touch with us.