An Accountant’s Guide to Winning at Contract Negotiation

Too often, accountants shy away from taking a leading role in contract negotiations. The reasons could range from timidity to a lack awareness of their strengths. This stance has curbed most accountants’ potential to cut the best deals.

If you’re an accountant, this guide aims to help you claim your rightful seat at the negotiation table.

Take contract negotiation training

You may have noticed that too few people from your field invest in skills through negotiation training. In contrast, your marketing, sales, and other colleagues are sharpening themselves through regular training.

It’s no wonder your fellow employees’ career paths keep soaring. You, too, can get on the same footing. Enrolling in contract negotiation training can give your dormant personal strengths and nerve a shot in the arm.

Get involved early

You might often be called in to sign contracts after the deal is done. Such a last-minute role limits your power to add value and create savings for the business.

You can work towards an inclusive company policy if you join hands with the managers and leaders. The new setup can see you getting as much contract negotiation training as workers in other departments. The skills you gain will bring you to the same page as your co-workers.

Set reasonable parameters

Do you need to approve purchases made by colleagues? If yes, setting a threshold for a purchase to be ripe for the green light can streamline the process. Often, co-workers might assume that since the set budget covers a specific item, there’s no need to shop around or negotiate for better deals.

Asking the leadership to set up contract negotiation training can put the right questions at the staff’s fingertips. Co-workers will learn to go for non-price value, such as support and long-term service. The result is that your co-workers will be keen on looking for value-creation avenues to help the business pocket the extra savings.

Do due diligence

You can do due diligence when the company intends to make a purchase, but the terms of the sale have yet to be agreed to. Doing your homework can be your best bet for knowing a purchase’s value. A prior check can also give you a peek into the long-term benefits and risks of the deal.

Digging deeper can reveal critical and classified information that may impact the value and viability of the deal. Depending on the type of contract at hand, you may need to focus on key aspects, such as:

  • Income statements
  • Taxation records
  • Excise and custom duty
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Shipping, handling, and haulage costs
  • Utility accounts
  • Privacy details (trading partners, union issues, ownership details)
  • Licensing issues
  • Lease arrangements
  • Details of automated accounting systems

Don’t be afraid to say no

Too often, you may be duped into thinking it’s not your place to get involved in purchase decisions. In particular, when the expenditure is for goods or services away from your field, such as manufacturing or engineering. However, as an accountant, you’ve got the power to veto budgets.

Don’t be shy about stamping your authority. Saying ‘No’ can mean the difference between gaining and bleeding funds. With due diligence and a team approach, you can tell whether a purchase decision will add value to the business.

Communicate clearly

Let your colleagues know your criteria for your stance. Have them get it that your office needs correct data in good time. Let them know that you’ll always stand by the company’s process that paves way to approvals. You can win your team’s respect in time, even if some resent your veto power.

Negotiation is a crucial skill for you. Whether you brainstorm with your employer and colleagues or clients, vendors, and regulators, your skills will impact your influence and the firm’s bottom line.