SKF Industrial division fine-tune their negotiation skills

SKF saw the opportunity to create more mutually rewarding deals through the raising of the perceived value of their propositions. This would be achieved through more effective planning, the use of a common approach and language within their teams, and the capability to more completely empathise with clients.

To reinforce this objective, Huthwaite’s tailormade solution began by using a tool called the Negotiation Quicktest to identify the negotiators’ current strengths and weaknesses. Despite excellent customer relationship skills, it was felt that if negotiators were empowered to become more creative and develop the key bargaining skills they needed to identify levers and trades, they would be able to secure beneficial deals more effectively, leading to a more effective, profitable operation.

Based on the findings of the Quicktest, Huthwaite designed a three-day Negotiation Skills programme to address the identified needs and issues. A pilot programme was delivered in Brussels for a group of senior negotiators from around Europe to test the design. Feedback from delegates was very positive, and a full roll-out of the course to 120 delegates from the entire European region was scheduled. Where necessary, the programmes were delivered in the local country’s language.

The programme uses case studies to allow the delegates to plan for, and conduct, negotiations using Huthwaite’s tools and applying the approach suggested from Huthwaite’s extensive research into the skills used by successful negotiators. Before negotiating the case studies, delegates are introduced to the behavioural skills Huthwaite have discovered are used by the same group of successful people.

 For many people, these skill models and the measurable feedback they received about their own skill levels are the highlights of the programme, as it allows them to compare their own performance against that of skilled negotiators, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and allowing them to take corrective action where necessary. Delegate feedback from the first programme delivered in Germany is typical of the reactions to the course:

  • “The training was good, some lessons were not new, but to get objective feedback on my performance was very good and it will help me in future negotiations. The training was not too theoretical. There was a lot of practise, and for me that was very good.” 
  • “The course gave me a good knowledge of the behaviours used by skilled negotiators; it improved my skills, and gave me guidelines for preparing a strategy and for setting targets for future negotiations.”

The positive feedback has continued throughout the series of programmes, with the latest course receiving high ratings on every aspect of the course. Around six months after the training, delegates will be asked to complete another simple questionnaire, a ‘post course Quicktest’, again designed by Huthwaite.

This will help delegates to continue reflecting on the skills they have learned, and gather another level of feedback to the initiative, to test more thoroughly the value of the training to SKF. Chris Rhodes comments, “The training appears to have been a big success, we are very pleased with the level of positive feedback from the people who have attended. They especially like the blend of theory with ample opportunity to practise the skills they are learning, and above all the level of objective feedback they are getting about their own performance. The session on who holds the power has been very well received and has changed the way many of our negotiators view their position. It’s early days, but our people seem confident that the training will help them to negotiate more effective agreements with our customers.”