More and more retail buyers are having to conduct business across multiple time zones and having to do it electronically via email.  As a result, many buyers have asked us if they should negotiate using email.  The answer is ‘Yes…but not for all of it.’

Seasoned retail negotiators have told us that starting a conversation, outlining needs, summarizing agreements or disagreements can all be done via email.  The challenge is on closing the final details of a deal.  That they say should be done ideally on the phone in person.  If you’re negotiating with a factory in China or supplier in Brazil you can use email to set the stage and move a negotiation along.  Remembering that negotiating means you both want to do business but you both need to figure out in what way, at what cost, and at what value.

Using email to close the gap in negotiating by challenging assumptions and clarifying specific actions and impact is an effective tool.  When you’re at the point where the majority of details have been agreed to is a good time to pick up the phone and finish the deal.  Of course you can always email to set a convenient time for that call.

What are some of the other challenges and solutions to negotiating over multiple timezones? Tweet us @mohrretail and let us know.


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.