Archive for February, 2011

How to spot a liar during contract negotiations

February 24th, 2011

I was having a drink with a client the other day. We had just finished a contract negotiation with a major software supplier and my client, instead of being happy with what as a great result and a significant negotiated saving, was fuming that I had shown the vendor salesman to be a liar. While I won’t go into the details of what that salesman had erroneously said and done, I thought it worth blogging on the general subject of spotting a liar.

Lying to gain competitive advantage during a contract negotiation is not only unethical but it can seriously damage the relationships between both parties. 

Yet research suggests that in an average 10 minte business conversation, most people will lie 2.9 times. These lies can be as simple as exageration about status, position or authority, or promises that cannot be kept white lies such as ‘Ive got another meeting in 10 minutes” to facilitate a quick escape.

Understanding the structure of language can help us interpret what the speaker is saying. For example, “I think that’s great, but…” usually means “it isn’t great at all”. Another language trick is to use generalisation; this has the effect of deleting useful facts such as when, where, who, what and why. Liars tend to make frequent use of ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘nobody’, and ‘everyone’ which distances themselves from the lie.

Here are five tell-tale verbal signs to look out for:

  1. Circumlocution. Long-winded explanations with lots of digressions punctuated with ‘ums’ and ‘errs’.
  2. Outlining. Explanations painted with broad brushstrokes. The brian finds it difficult to remember fictitious details.
  3. Smokescreens. Answers/responses that are designed to confuse.
  4. Negatives. If someone says ” I did not do ….” then beware.
  5. Word choice. Liars make fewer references to themselves. ’I', me’, ‘mine’ are used less frequently.

And ofcourse, as well as watching what your supplier salespeople say you should also watch their body language which can give away a lot of non-verbal information. But that’s another story in itself….

Oracle faces hardware challenge

February 17th, 2011

The database giant Oracle is struggling to ship servers manufactured by subsidiary Sun Microsystems, according to Gartner. The number of servers shipped by Oracle in Europe fell by more than a third (35.3%) in the last quarter. Gartner’s latest figures show that the company’s Sun Microsystems hardware division shifted just over 10,000 units in the third quarter of 2010, compared with more than 15,600 in the year- ago quarter.

Oracle, better known for its business applications and relational database technology, only entered the hardware business when it acquired Sun at the start of 2010. Its server market share stands at 1.7%, says Gartner. Oracle was the only major vendor to lose market share in the quarter. Hewlett Packard grew its share by 9%, Dell by 23%, IBM 10% and Fujitsu 6%.

Negotiation tip: if you want to buy Sun servers, then now is a good time to pressure Oracle into giving great discounts!

PC sales remain slow as businesses consider tablet devices

February 10th, 2011

Global PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2010 fell below analyst predictions as businesses delayed purchases and considered alternative devices. Worldwide PC shipments reached 93.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2010, an increase of 3.1% from the same period in 2009 but this was below analyst predictions for 4.8% growth.

It would seem that competition from media tablets, such as Apple’s iPad and those from other manufacturers, as well as austerity measures caused businesses to delay buying replacement PCs.

Hewlett Packard retained the number one position with 18.8% market share. Acer Group came second with 12.7% market share, followed by Dell and Lenovo with 11.6% and 10.1% respectively.

Negotiation tip: As well as using competition to get your preferred PC supplier to make their prices as keen as possible, you can also frighten your preferred PC suppliers to drop their prices by threatening to go to tablets. It’s the old boxing ‘one, two’; jab them with competition then hit ‘em with a tablet-led left hook!

SAP reports record fourth quarter software revenues

February 3rd, 2011

SAP has reported record fourth-quarter results software revenue of €1.5bn (£1.27bn), up 34% compared with the same quarter in 2009. Software and software-related service revenue was up 27% on the previous year to €3.26bn and total revenue for the quarter was also up 27% to €4.04bn. According to SAP, this was the best software sales quarter in the history of SAP.

SAP’s strong results reflected a boost in the software market in the past year as companies in emerging markets, the US and parts of Europe made investment to support their economic recovery.

SAP reported software revenue for the full year of €3.26bn, up 25%, and software and software-related service revenue of €9.78bn, up 19%. Total revenue for 2010 was €12.45bn, an increase of around 17%.

That’ll help pay the $1.3bn damages that SAP has been ordered to pay to Oracle for the TomorrowNow case.