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Leadership, Student Activites, The Facts|February 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Negotiation Tactics: Closing the Deal with Campus Vendors

When planning an event on campus, there are a number of things to remember when negotiating a price for your chosen entertainment.  So you want the Black Eyed Peas to perform at your homecoming event, but your budget is more aligned with booking the local Green Bean Band, you may have to reevaluate your plan of action.  There are a number of tactics you can follow that can help your student body negotiate a reasonable price for the gig you want to appear at your campus.

1. Define your event or entertainment need:

Are you looking for something low key or something to Rock the Stadium of the campus?  Define your requirement for your specific event, and ensure that the majority of the people attending would be in favor of the entertainment choice.  Is this a fundraiser?  Is this event provided to get the entire student body together or for a small, defined group event?  You must know the what, when, who, where and why you are planning this event before you start the negotiation process.

2. Do your research:

Before you make any purchase – big or small, you need to be informed about the competitors and prices in the market.  Even buying groceries, people look through newspaper ads for the best deals of the week.  When developing your acquisition plan, search for similar vendors that offer the same type of event, and compare prices based on the key standards you are searching for.  Are you looking for quality?  Then you may need to ante up, and review past performance reviews provided by other people or clients.  Are you looking for the lowest price?   Then buckle your wallet, and shop around and find quotes from low priced vendors.  Also, consider “block booking” in order to find the deals.  Block booking can be done in a number of ways.  Often an agency can block book events for an entire year for a campus, providing discounted rates for those events.  In addition, if your campus is holding a large event with a number of entertainers, this can often drive down the price of each vendor, as there is no true “main” entertainment provided.  Also, try working with the entertainer and other nearby colleges.  If the entertainer visits a number of venues within the same location in a limited time frame, the cost is often more negotiable.

3. Have a cost objective established:

Once you have your requirement clearly defined and have completed your research, the next step is to formulate an objective.   Typically this objective should include all of the costs associated with the event.  Are there materials that need to be purchased?  Is there a hall or auditorium that requires a rental fee?  Is the performer paid an hourly or fixed rate?  Are there travel costs associated with the event or performer?  Note, when formulating this objective, you should create two objectives for each type of cost – a target cost and a maximum cost.  Having a target and maximum amount that would be plausible for the event, you now have created your negotiation spread.  Your goal is to reach your target cost (or less of course), but you should be willing to pay your maximum objective.

4. Monitor when you speak and when you listen:

“If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”  This Turkish proverb greatly explains one of the most important negotiation skills that should be practiced.  Although so simply stated, this is one of the most difficult skills for people to perfect.  Most people like to give their opinion or voice their stance when given the opportunity; however, during a negotiation, you must learn the proper times to speak and when to just stop and listen.

When speaking, be sure to explain the reasoning behind your target price- including your basis of estimate that was built upon your accomplished research.  Do you have a quote from another vendor for less expensive materials?  Can you compare the proposed travel costs for the entertainer with rates that you found on expedia or  Don’t be afraid to provide the information you have found – this makes your position more solid.

Then, take time to listen.  Don’t talk yourself out of a good deal.  Listen to the vendor’s position and take notes.  If substantial justification is given to increase your price from your target cost – take it into consideration.  Just remember – always wait for a counter offer before increasing your offering price.  Never throw out two offers, whereby increasing your own offer with another offer.

5. Be willing and able to Walk Away:

If the person on the other end of the negotiating table is not willing to meet a reasonable agreement, you must be willing to walk away from the discussion.  At times, giving a break in the negotiations allows each party to reevaluate the discussions, think it over reasonably, and make a proper final decision.  You must realize that walking away from the table, may lead you back to the beginning of the negotiation process, and you may need to find another choice for your vendor or choice of entertainment.

6. Finalize negotiations with a recap of the items discussed:

Even if an agreement isn’t met during negotiations, it is often a beneficial strategy to follow up the discussions with an email outlining the items and prices discussed.  Sometimes having this in writing will allow the other side to see the offer, and make a late acceptance of the prices discussed; however, be sure to include a date that your offer is valid through.  If an agreement between the parties was made, a recap of the costs and discussions is a cordial way of informing the vendor that negotiations have been completed, and that a formal contract defining the terms, conditions, and pricing is on its way.  This of course should only occur if the signing of a contract wasn’t accomplished via a face to face negotiation.

If you follow these tactics, your school will have a competitive advantage at the negotiating table.  Not to mention, your school will have some of the best events or performers on your campus without depleting the entire school’s budget.


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  • The #4 tactic is quite hard. You need to have the “guts” to do it in a nice way. It’s the most crucial of part of making a deal. Thorough research is then greatly needed for presenting a deal.

  • What i worry about is not preparing before making a deal. Just like any after the deal, there’s a tendency that those people you are making a deal with will suddenly back out.It’s more pressure on your part. It pays to have a 2nd or 3rd option thought beforehand.

  • I had a funny experience in closing a deal for a certain event back in college. It was unsuccessful though coz I was outnumbered on that deal. I relied too much on what I knew so I faced them all by myself. Unexpectedly, I was bombarded with their presence and demands =( It’s really better to bring someone in making a deal.

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