Many small and mid-sized businesses get trapped in unfair negotiations, especially in David and Goliath situations, simply because they lack the appropriate skills. If you negotiate with organizations who you think have more power or leverage than you, this episode is a must! Join Christine McKay as she interviews Matthew Marini, President at Agile Resources, an IT staffing and recruiting agency. He has been in this highly competitive industry for nearly 15 years and frequently negotiates with large enterprise companies. Together, Christine and Matthew go over some of the essential skills and principles that every business owner should learn to get their fair share of the mutual win in every negotiation. 

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Dealing with Goliaths: One Small Business’ Experience with Matthew Marini

We are so excited that you are choosing to spend some time with us and I’m excited to have our guest, Matthew Marini. He is a prince amongst princes when it comes to negotiating in David and Goliath situations. He is the President of Agile and that means that Matthew gets to help people become excellent technical recruiters and account managers. He has learned through his experience that if you treat people you are working with the way that you would like to be treated, success will follow.

Matthew helps hire and train and develop business professionals into leaders in a technical staffing industry, which is a fascinating industry because a lot of people don’t know this. Matthew will talk some about this, but a lot of technical people within the tech industry are contract employees and they come through staffing through organizations like yours. It is a different staffing model from many other industries.

Matthew has been growing and leading teams in the IT consulting and staffing industry for years and he’s been in the industry helping find people new jobs for many years. He is devoted to his family and when the opportunity presents itself, he loves to golf and he enjoys outdoor activities. His volunteer time is focused on kids, not his own, he says and he works as a mentor for YearUp and his wife and he had been foster parents for children in his community for the past few years. Thank you so much for that. I appreciate that.

I have a number of people in my network who were foster kids and it’s something that keeps coming up for me. I’ve been meeting people involved in the foster system, either as children or people working in the system. I need to heed that calling a little bit and get involved in that because it keeps coming up for me, probably from a dozen people and they never heard of it before. Matthew, welcome. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Thank you for having me. I’m definitely looking forward to speaking with you. When I found out about you and your business, I was excited to learn more and I love your mantra of David versus Goliath because I feel that way every day. Thank you for the nice introduction.

It’s so good to have you here. Let’s start by telling us a bit more about what it is you do and how you got to this point. What brought you here?

What we do is, in the IT world, it is incredibly difficult to find good IT engineers, developers, web developers, application developers, or guys that work on the cloud. It’s incredibly hard to find these guys. Large organizations, most of our clients are Fortune 500, Fortune 1000 companies, need help finding the best of the best IT talent. They are willing to pay us to go out and find them and either bring them to the table so the company can hire them directly or use them as a contractor, in which case, we facilitate the ability for them to be on our payroll, have benefits and work as a contractor. That’s what we do.

How I got into the business was since I was a kid, I always wanted to be in sales. You could have asked six-year-old me, “What do you want to do?” I would have said, “I want to be in sales.” My dad was a sales manager and moved up in business management so that was what I had my heart desires on. I went to school for business knowing that I wanted to be in sales and came to find out that there are organizations now and colleges that have sales programs, which is amazing.

The University of Georgia has one now and KSU, which is unbelievable. I hope they’re teaching negotiation. I’m not sure if they are. I hope they are but they have sales designations now for a major, which is unbelievable. I wish I would have had that. In 2006, I came out of school and started selling mortgages. I became a loan officer at a company and I helped crash the economy and ruin the mortgage market. By 2008, I was selling subprime loans and no doc loans to people who shouldn’t have been buying houses. I did that for a year, and I loved it. It was a real difficult sales process. Get your leads off a bank rate, you’re the fifteenth loan officer and mortgage broker to call that person off of that lead and they would test you out and all that, but I loved it. It was the thrill of the chase, helping people get into homes, helping people buy their first home or refinance or whatever. It was good.

Before we had the crash in 2008, I did see the writings on the wall as loans were getting declined for good borrowers. I looked around for a new job and found technical recruiting/account management. I read what that’s about. The job description said, “Relationship-based selling and it’s on IT consulting.” All these terms sounded interesting to 24 years old me. I got into the business with a large organization, and over the last couple of years, I worked my way up from recruiter, recruiting manager, team lead, and Director of Recruiting. After a few years at Agile, after being the director here for a while, our former president moves on and they named me the new president here. I’ve been in Agile now for a few years, as you mentioned in my bio, which was a great summary. Nice job.

It’s a good summary that you can find on my LinkedIn page. What I am focused on is equipping my team to be good business people. I’m interested in this topic as negotiation is a huge part of what we do. We have a team of recruiters, in which our recruiters are more salespeople. We’re normally calling someone who didn’t know that they were looking for a job and our recruiters call them, “I know of a company that would like to talk with you. Would you like to discuss a possible new opportunity?” They sell opportunities.

Our salespeople are going out to large organizations, generally, our best customers are larger companies, and maybe larger like a $200 million company, which doesn’t rank them on any list of size, but they’re still a large company. They’re looking for new customers. They’re servicing our current customers, and we have a small operations team. I have a team in the Florida market, too. My job is working with them and helping each team train new people and make them the best recruiters or account managers possible.

Price should be an outcome of a negotiation, not the input. Click To Tweet

As the readers know and as you know if you read a lot of the stuff that I’ve done, I do this whole concept of David and Goliath negotiation. It’s a big deal for me. I have worked for and negotiated with almost half of the Fortune 500, both on the procurement side, as well as on the sales side. I’ve always found and part of why I’m passionate about it is that big companies often appear to be taking advantage of small businesses. Not long ago, I had Scott O’Neil on the show, and Scott is the CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment, which owns the New Jersey Devils, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

They started looking through their supplier base and they realize they have few black-owned businesses. What they realized in doing an analysis is they are structured in a way as are most big companies. You have to hit certain delivery requirements, pricing requirements, and payment records. There are these metrics that they think of as standard but when you think of those particular metrics of standard, what it does is it essentially carves out your ability to work with smaller organizations. Smaller organizations can’t meet some of those obligations. We don’t have the size and the scale so that means prices are higher so they’ve implemented a new program called Buy Black, which is geared around helping them to figure out.

They partnered with the black community in Philadelphia to figure out how to do that to create a more leveled playing field. In technical staffing, where most of the companies, I would say are smaller. You do have some big players but those tend to rise to more on the executive side versus more mid-level and in the doers in the tech industry. Tell the readers a little bit more about how the industry is structured? It matters in this case because so many of you are small businesses.

Absolutely. You’re exactly right. There are some large organizations. If they were traded in the United States, they would be some of the largest companies. Randstad’s German-owned and there are some large ones that are Japanese owned and stuff. There are a few big players, but the truth of the matter is in any market for IT staffing, the biggest companies in our space don’t even capture one or 2% of the market share. They don’t even have that much. It’s that fragmented. The majority of the staffing vendors or staffing companies are servicing large enterprise-level businesses and also large companies, it’s extremely competitive. I’m in Atlanta. I’ve heard that in Atlanta and I hear different statistics. It moves around.

If there’s at least 300 IT focused staffing companies in Atlanta, the biggest players only have 1% or 2% of the market share with the huge companies here based in Atlanta. The Deltas, the Home Depots, the ADPs and the UPSs, and Coca-Colas. The big companies that everybody knows like the Randstad, the Robert Half, and companies like that are national and sometimes global have small market share. That means that there are lots of us. If there’s 300 IT-focused staffing companies in Atlanta, probably 250 of us would be considered a small or medium-sized business, probably somewhere between $1 million in revenue size business. Most of us that are players on the bigger scale are going to be somewhere between $10 million, $20 million, $30 million, $40 million to $50 million in revenue.

That’s absolutely a small business.

It’s us at a size of a $20 million business going up against the majority of our customers. Our customers are companies like Panasonic and Aqua Bath.

That’s a billion-dollar Goliath.

Home Depot, Adobe, US Bank, and customers like these. These are some of my largest. All of them are measured in billions. They have teams. They have a procurement team and a law team. They hire people like you. You were one of them that are professional negotiators and these are the people that we work with to sign. Usually what we’re looking to sign is an overarching agreement called an MSA, Master Service Agreement, that allows us to be a vendor for that company.

They will send us their MSA that their lawyers have written and their professional negotiators have looked over. They will send that to us and say, “Here are our terms. If you’d like to be one of our vendors, sign this. We don’t make any changes to this agreement. All of our vendors have agreed to this.” This is something I definitely would want to mention for the audience because the truth of the matter is, that’s never true.

I say it every time because nobody likes to negotiate it yet but somebody in procurement, or in our case, sometimes it’s HR talent acquisition, they say, “Here’s the agreement. We don’t make any changes.” The majority of the salespeople on my team are in their mid-20s to early 30s. They’ve been in business a few years. They’re good at what they do but in the course of their career, they may have negotiated with these large organizations a handful of times, 5 or 10. They’re hoping that by sending us that contract and saying, “We don’t negotiate.” We’ll say, “We’ll sign it.”

Let’s pause on that for a second because that is absolutely what they’re hoping for. I’ve now worked with hundreds and hundreds of small businesses and I come into the situation and a lot of times, people have signed those contracts. I have a friend and a client who works in a machine shop. It’s a family-owned business. He’s second-generation and they make parts for the aerospace defense industry and also lots of behemoths like Raytheon, Lockheed, Boeing, NASA, etc. One of the behemoth companies sent him a contract and it said, “We want to buy X amount of products.” Let’s say it was 1,000 units and he has twelve employees. He’s about $10 to $15 million, let’s call it. We want to buy 1,000 units, “We’re only going to commit to buying 5% of those, but you have to be prepared to expedite 50% of them at no additional cost if we decide to do that.”

Negotiate Better: When you’re negotiating, always listen for opportunities to change the nature of the discussion by changing your terminology.

 

I’m like, “On what planet would you do that?” I said, “First of all, what are you going to do? Are you going to store raw materials? Are you going to keep staff on call? If you’re going to produce that many units, that requires a jump in your staff. Are you going to build it and hope they buy it and hold finished goods? Do you have the distribution contract? Do you have a delivery contract and shipping contracts to be able to deal with expedited?” The amount of things that he would have had to do operationally to support that deal was insane.

I said to him, “There’s no way.” We talked about it and he sent an email back to them saying, “There’s no way.” They immediately backed off on most of that because they were throwing out to see if he’d accept it. I guarantee that a number of his competitors or companies similar to him have, in fact, accepted those terms. They do it because they’ve gotten away with it before and somebody has naively signed that contract. That’s why they say it. It’s frustrating. This is one of the reasons why I get passionate about what I do because that stuff ticks me off. It’s so frustrating, and it’s in nobody’s best interest to play that game and that is what that is. That is a game.

I completely agree. It’s what you said with Scott. This big company that put these terms on your friend there. They thought that was best. Maybe people have signed that before but it does eliminate, a lot of times, the little guys because if they weren’t flexible on those terms they would have said, “Sorry. We can’t take that business.” As you mentioned with the 76ers and the Jersey Devils, they had these terms in place that eliminated the small minority-owned businesses or other small businesses that couldn’t compete on those terms. The sad part is that might have been the best vendor for them.

This is what we try to explain to our customers. If you throw these terrible terms out, all you’re going to get are the other 200 staffing firms that aren’t good. They’re the only ones who are going to sign this junk and you’re going to be left with a vendor list that’s not servicing you the way you need to be serviced. In fact, there’s a reason you called me, and we’re talking about us becoming a vendor for you and it’s because you pushed these terrible terms down your other vendors’ throats. They grudgingly accepted them. They are not servicing you the way that you need to be serviced so nobody wants this. The outcome was terrible for everybody. You didn’t get the help you needed because your terms were bad and the only companies that were signing it were not the best companies so now you don’t have good vendors. Who won?

You told me this great story about a company that you were talking to that was driving hard to cut prices. I want to make sure that you share that story because I thought it was super important. One of the things that I talked about is that price should more often be an outcome or an output of a negotiation, not the input. A lot of salespeople start with the price when they’re in a negotiation. The challenge for that, especially if you have a formal contract in place, is there are many elements in a formal contract that drive cost.

If price gets determined before those elements are negotiated, then you’re often taking on costs that you have not offset in your price. If a salesperson goes in and leads with price or says, “We’ve got to have this deal so they drive the price down and they agree to crazy discounts,” all these additional costs that are in a lot of these Goliath contracts, everything from how you print an invoice. In some cases, these big companies will have a clause or a line in the contract that says, “If you’re going to send me an invoice, it must look exactly like this.” If you’re a small business, do you have that setup? There’s a cost of setting that up. It might not be high, but have you accounted for that? Tell me about the story about how this one company was hammering on price and you’re not going to get your best people if you do that.

It’s a great win for our team. I’m happy with the outcome. We had a client where we were renegotiating. We probably want to talk about renegotiating later because I am a big believer in renegotiating.

I am too, so we’ll definitely come to that. That’s one of my favorite topics.

It was a company we’d worked with years ago and there was new leadership in that company. They wanted to re-engage with us. They needed some help hiring software engineers so we renegotiated their terms in fairly standard in for background information, fairly standard in the recruiting business. If you hire somebody, let’s say for $100,000 salary at 20% of their first-year salary fee is generally what a staffing company receives. A $20,000 fee is what you would expect on a $100,000 person salary and most IT people that we get hired are usually in the low $100,000 to maybe $150,000 salary. It’s pretty typical for your staff level engineer, developer, cloud operations guy, or whatever it is.

This company said, “We’re going to sign a new agreement and we’ll agree to the 20%.” We were able to convince them that this is industry standard. If you want good service from any staffing company that you pick in Atlanta, this is what everybody does. In fact, for these types of roles, we’ve been asking for 25%, because they’re in such high demand. Basically, we can name the price, but we were willing to go to 20% so we agreed on that. They said that they’re under budget constraints now with COVID and things going on. Budgets are tight and we completely understand that.

They wanted to go, “Would you do 15%? Would you do 18%?” They were hammering us. The danger for us if we agree in our agreement, in our MSA, that lasts for sometimes indefinitely, but usually a couple of years. If we agree to a lower percentage, that doesn’t help hurt us on this deal. It hurts us on all future business, which if I signed that contract at 15%, now they’re one of my only customers at 15% and my recruiters don’t want to work on that business. They’d rather work on businesses that are 20% or 25%. They’re not interested in servicing that client the way that client needed to be serviced.

We help educate them on, “This is to level the playing field. Twenty percent is normal.” They’re like, “We have these two hires. We need to make them. We’re deadlined to make them and we’re under budget now closing out this year. How can you help us? Can you do 15%?” We’re like, “Let’s do this. Long-term, we both agree that the partnership is important and that 20% to us means that you value us as suppliers to you and of course, we value your business. Let’s go ahead and sign the agreement. We agreed upon 20% so the longevity of our relationship makes sense for both parties and we’ll both be happy. On this one on these two hires that you need to make now, we can agree and write a separate agreement, a statement of work, then we’re going to do them at a lesser rate.”

Emotions are the enemy of a good negotiation. Click To Tweet

What my salesperson wanted to do was meet in the middle. We’re saying 20% and they’re saying 15% Let’s go at 17.5% or some number that we agree. They’re going to say 15%, we’re going to say 19%, and they’ll 16%. We’ll say 18% and they’ll say 17%. We’ll meet in the middle. I don’t like that. I hate splitting the difference. We brainstorm with the salesperson on my team to try to come up with something different. We decided to shift the paradigm. Let’s not argue over 1% or 2% because that can go back and forth and you’re both parties are going to leave angry. You both feel like you lost. Let’s do the math ahead of time. Figure out if we hire this person at $120,000 or $ 130,000 with a 20% fee. We’re going to get $21,000, $22,000, $23,000 or someone in there.

If they’re under budget, why don’t you ask me questions? Find out what they have to spend and throw out a number that we feel is fair and we’re happy to do and that fits within their budget and let’s take the percentage off the table because here’s what’s going to happen. If we go with a percentage, let’s say we land on 17%, we’ll make the two hires at 17%. They may be happy, we’re not that happy, but it’s good enough. What’s going to happen though is on the third hire, the next one, they’re going to have to go up to 20% and they’re going to feel they’re stretching to go up.

I feel like they’re probably going to put a carrot out there, “We’ll give you the third hire but can you still do it at 17%?” Let’s take the percentage off the table and let’s go for a flat fee. Let’s propose a number of $21,000. Let’s use that as, “Can we both agree on this? This is a flat fee.” If you’re looking at budgeting and planning ahead, I know as a manager, I’d love to know what I’m going to spend in the future. It helps me budget, but let’s take the percentage off the table and go for a flat fee. That way, when we go back to 20%, they won’t have this feeling of, “We’re going up.” It completely eliminated it. It no longer focuses on the percentage. It’s now on a flat fee and we asked for an intangible, non-monetary thing.

We’re like, “We will take on an agreed upon flat fee and we would like exclusivity on this deal so we don’t have competition. Can you agree to that?” We got it. We got two things. We’ve got a fee and anything above $20,000 for us and a fee is a good fee. My recruiters are happy to work on that job for that and we got it as an exclusive business, which is even better because that was guaranteed money for us. We found something that we could both agree on and we’ve got something extra and for me, that’s a huge win.

I call that changing the nature of the discussion or negotiation. When we’re talking about money and price, people get fixated on either the dollar number or a percentage. Generally, in my experience, somebody’s focusing on one of those pieces. That’s how they talk. I was in a renegotiation with a client that owed a lot of money to a vendor and they couldn’t afford to pay it. This was many years ago, it was during the Dot-com bubble burst. I came in and they owed over $1 million to this vendor. They couldn’t pay it. They were going to go out of business.

My client was an internet services provider and they owed the money to their hosting company. They’re going to get kicked out of their cage and they were going to get have to get shut down. Everybody was fixated on the dollar amount so it was the opposite of you. Everyone was fixated on the dollars and all I did was stop talking dollars and start talking percentage. When we start talking percentage, we reduce that liability by 73%. It was by changing that one thing. I’m always looking for creative ways to teach. We’re getting ready to launch our new Venn Master’s Program. Everybody reading right now gets to read this little vignette of the training. I found a clip from Sesame Street, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” The waiter comes over and the patron says, “There’s a fly in my soup.” The waiter picks up the bowl and looks under the bowl. He’s like, “I don’t see a fly on your soup.” “It’s not under my soup, it’s in my soup.”

They go through this whole thing. The waiter looks around the bowl, “It’s not around the bowl,” “It’s not around the soup, it’s in my soup.” That one word, a single word changes from dollar to percentage, percentage to dollar or whatever the topic is can make a difference. To all the readers, when you are in a negotiation, listen for the opportunities to change the nature of the discussion by changing a terminology. When you see somebody getting fixated and starting to get agitated about a percentage, stuck on the percentage, your counterpart was stuck on a percentage, my counterpart was stuck on a dollar number. Figure out how to change that and use a different language because it interrupts the pattern of thinking. It moves the discussion forward versus being stuck on that and you’d end up sticking and staying in corners and not progressing in the conversation.

For me, I was also future thinking of if they’re stuck at 17% and on the next hire down the road, we’ve got to go back up to 20%, that feels tough, but a dollar going back to percentage in the future. The truth of the matter is that third hire at the full 20% will only be maybe $23,000 or $24,000 and now $21,000 and $22,000 and $23,000 is all in the same ballpark. We’ll get back to what we’re used to, and both parties will be happy as their budgets reset in 2021 and they’re able to do that. It’s flipping the paradigm.

The other thing that this example highlights and is important for our readers to understand is it is clear that you know your numbers. A lot of small businesses go in and they negotiate based on a feeling. This feels like it’s the right thing but they don’t have clarity on exactly what they should be negotiating. As a result of not having clarity, once the negotiation hits a sticking point, they start losing their ability to articulate clearly what it is that they want because they don’t know. They’re not researched enough on what they want and need and how their numbers work. They haven’t analyzed that in a way that allows them to get creative. You did a lot of things in that discussion that was effective things to do.

You changed the terminology so that you could move them off this percentage to something that was going to work for you over the long run. You looked for creative ways of solving a problem. You looked at what the longer-term objectives were. A lot of times, people get focused on what can I do without thinking about what the implication is of that in the long-term. I love that this is a renegotiation. I want to talk about renegotiation because I imagine you do a lot of renegotiation stuff. That was a great example. Thank you for sharing that. There’s a lot of stuff based on the description that you were effective in that communication.

You said some things too that I want to talk about. Feelings and emotions are the enemies of a good negotiation. The problem is most of the time when you get to the negotiating table, there were hours, if not days, if not years of work, especially in our business, that went into getting to that conversation. Coca-Cola is not one of my customers. If we wanted to get as a primary IT staffing partner with Coca-Cola, it could take us anywhere between six months and a year to make that happen.

When we finally get to the table to discuss their terms and they’re telling us, “We’re not making any changes,” usually my account executives are bought in with time because they’ve been pursuing this customer. They’ve had to set dozens of meetings to even get it. This has been their baby of passion for a year. They get wrapped up in like, “Let’s take what they’re offering because I worked hard to even get here. I don’t want to lose it.” That’s where we are able to partner where we can work together and I can take the emotion out of it for them a little bit. They don’t want to lose all the work that they put into getting a deal done. It’s hard to step back from the emotion of it.

Negotiate Better: A lot of small businesses negotiate based on the feeling that it’s the right thing, but they don’t have clarity on exactly what they should be negotiating.

 

If you are working with us and you were supporting us as our advocate on negotiating half, you want us to win but you don’t have all that emotion. You’re looking at things from a high level and factoring in all the different things and what both sides want and you can make a good decision on what should be done taking the emotions out of it. Using a coach or using someone like yourself who’s an expert in the practice but then also doesn’t have all the emotions tied up into it, you’re going to be able to negotiate better on our behalf than us who’s an emotional wreck of it.

Are you familiar with Jed Blunt?

I’m not.

He’s a sales guy. Sales is a part of the negotiation but it’s not all of the negotiations. I agree, 100%, with what you’re saying. I’m constantly reading negotiation books. I’m constantly taking classes myself. I’m taking three different negotiation courses. I’m constantly wanting to learn more to see how I can always keep improving in my negotiation as well. Jed talks about whoever shows their emotion at the proverbial negotiation table loses. Chris Voss, the author of Never Split the Difference, talks about how emotion isn’t given at the negotiation table. You have these two views that are not diametrically opposed because we are emotional creatures. As soon as we want something from somebody else, emotion is immediately involved. We can do nothing about that.

What we can do is control how we express our emotions at the negotiation table. When you have somebody who hits a point, and I see this all the time, “I have to do this deal,” that deal is not going to be a successful deal for you. Once you have that mentality, you start to make concessions where you shouldn’t be making concessions. One of the advantages of having somebody like me or a third party is that I’m not the ultimate decision-maker. I have the ability to test things. I can say stupid things. I can try different things. I can play a different strategy. I don’t have this ultimate decision-making authority, so I have a lot more latitude to do things, and because I’m not in the organization and I’m not there for the long-term relationship, I can push harder in certain areas that my clients are not comfortable pushing. They’re worried about, “If I say no to this, I might lose this deal. Therefore, I can’t say no to it.” I don’t have that fear, so I can be a fall guy.

For your team having you to go to is important for them to have leverage. For you, in a high stakes negotiation, having somebody else that you can go to. You have a parent company so having that approval authority is a thing. For small business owners who may be reading, this concept of approval authority is important. If you are the business owner and you are at the negotiation table and you’re negotiating with one of these big companies, I strongly recommend that, at minimum, you have an advisory board who you have committed to that for any major deals that you will consult them to get their advice on what to do. When you are in the negotiation, at minimum, you can say, “It’s my company policy that I discuss major decisions with my advisory board.” That way, you allow yourself to step away from the table to have secondary discussions with your team so that you’re making a rational and less emotional decision at the negotiating table.

That’s amazing advice. I hope everyone takes that at heart. I’m running my own company but at least I do have that level that I can reach out to somebody. I have a question for you. Maybe you can help us out. Flip that around. When I am negotiating with a potential customer of mine, somebody that I want to become a customer and they’re pushing off things we’re asking for and they’re saying, “We don’t know. We’ll have to check with legal. We’ll have to check with our executives.” They’re playing the we-need-to-go-check-with-someone-else game. How do we get past that? Tell me how to get past that?

When we ask for something they don’t want to do, they’re using the excuse of like, “I need to check with someone else.” If you’re the small business owner and your counterpart knows you are the ultimate decision-maker, they’re going to be like, “We’ll decide.” You have the power. They play the game of, “I can’t make that decision. I need to go check with legal. I need to check with the procurement. I need to check with the executive.” How do you beat that? Tell me, please.

I was talking to somebody who’s I’m putting some stuff together to do some training in their company. It was our first call. We’re not at the point yet of doing proposals or anything. I spent 15, 20 minutes asking her about her process, “Who’s involved in the decision making? Do you have a budget?” “No.” “What’s the process for getting a budget? Who are the decision-makers who decide if you’re going to move forward or not? At what point do your attorneys get involved? At what point does procurement get involved? What timeline does that take from beginning to end?”

Negotiation is a series of yeses. It’s yes built upon yes. The easiest thing that you can get yeses on at the beginning of a negotiation when you are engaging in that relationship is around having clarity around the process. Even working in sales, I was stunned. I spent a lot of time working with procurement organizations. This is something I know. If you’re working with a goliath organization, they have a specific process to go through the entire thing. From the moment that the business owner engages with a potential supplier to the point where the business owner says, “I like you. I want to hire you.” They’re not the decision-maker. They have to take that if it’s over a certain spending limit. What are the spending thresholds?

In different companies, different levels within the organization are authorized to spend certain amounts of money without getting approvals. What’s their spending authority? What contract does this have to have? Is this a statement of work situation? Do we need an MSA situation? What type of timing does that? If it’s in MSA, who’s involved in the MSA? How do we engage those people now instead of waiting? Especially as the small business owner, to my point earlier, you know what are the other costs that are embedded in this MSA that I have to figure out. Operationally, do I do them? I always use background checks and drug testing as examples.

We’re headquartered in California. I remember I was in negotiation with Verizon. I was working with a hardware-software company. Verizon wanted this 21-panel drug test and I’m like, “I live in California. You can go and pound sand. That’s not happening.” It’s like, “What are you going to do?” They wanted all of my client’s suppliers and vendors to have the same level. They wanted us to rep and warrant that our suppliers and partners did the same level of drug testing. I’m like, “We don’t do that. We don’t have that in our contracts.” As a small business, a lot of companies would have signed that. It’s figuring that out and understanding what that process is first. Most salespeople that I’ve worked with, do not ask enough questions early enough about the process. The process hangs them up. They’re not able to plan effectively for it.

Not understanding where the other side of the negotiating table is coming from is like being in a sword fight blindfolded. Click To Tweet

When you’re doing this, take notes. This is the other thing that I see happen all the time. If you’re talking about the process, take notes on the process, compile them and send them back to the counterpart and say, “This is what you explained to me. I want to make sure that I’ve got this right.” When they introduce something else later down the road, you can go, “Timeout. This is a new part of the process. What’s the rationale for this piece being embedded in the process now?” Now you have a different type of discussion. People get excited about talking about their product or their service and money that they don’t deal with this process component upfront. Every massive corporation has a specific process. They have specific thresholds. If I’m spending this much money, I need all these people involved. If it’s this much money, I only need three people involved. Understand that. My number one piece of advice to overcome that is to get that process nailed down.

If you’re not asking 1,000 questions, you’re not doing it right. I can’t believe how many people I’ve seen entering negotiations where they want to say their piece and hope that the other side reciprocates. You don’t understand where they’re coming from. If you don’t start with understanding where they’re coming from, negotiations are tough. It’s like being in a sword fight and you’re blindfolded. Ask questions. Figure out what they care about.

That one story I told you that went well, we had asked a ton of questions and uncovered that budget is tight now and it will reset. That helps us. Also, understand the manager who is in charge of making the decision. I know how managers think when you’re looking at your budgets and your profitability and these things. I was able to share that with my account executive. She was asking questions and prodding and I was like, “This is how this guy is thinking. I’m in the same boat. I understand where he’s coming from. I bet he’d like to know the dollar figure versus the percentage.” She did a good job of uncovering a ton of information that allowed us to come back to the gameplan, talk through it, and then make a recommendation to them that both sides would agree upon. We then got that little cherry on top, which for us was the exclusive agreement so that we don’t have any competition on the roll and it’s guaranteed money for us. It worked out well.

On the flip side, I was involved in one where we did not do a good job of asking questions. We had been given a contract, the MSA, from a potential customer. The person in procurement had said, “We don’t change our terms. Sign it or we’ll find a different vendor.” I’m like, “Okay. I’m curious in the last year, how many vendors have you worked with or had to look for because you’re firm on these terrible terms.” The point I’m trying to make is that the account executive in that scenario did not ask any questions.

At the negotiation table, she was reading back to them the terms in their contract. She’s reading and being like, “It’s only 18% and this guarantee and that. Is that the case?” I’m like, “Why are you repeating back what’s in there? They know it’s in their agreement. We don’t need to read it to them.” We had to stop, pause, and sometimes in a negotiation, you need to do that, and say, “Give us a minute. Put the phone on mute. Let’s uncover what they care about.” Lo and behold, after asking probably 3 or 4 good pointed questions, I found out they do negotiate on terms.

There are a few that they care about. We were able to uncover that they care about these three and they’re not going to change on those three, but everything else is up for negotiation. They’re going to start with, “We don’t change any terms.” I was like, “Does your boss care about payment terms? Does your boss care about the guarantee? Does your boss care about all these factors?” We find out they don’t care about these five things and these three things they do. We care about this and they don’t care about that. We found some middle ground but it was a tougher negotiation because we did not do a good job of digging in, understanding where they’re coming from, understanding what they care about. If you can do that effectively on the front end, everything from there becomes easier throughout the rest of the process.

I’ve pretty much banned this question from my vernacular. Stop asking why questions. They’re ineffective. Big, behemoth company sends you the contract and says, “We don’t negotiate terms.” The natural thing that people then say is, “Why not?” Their response every time is, “Because.” What the heck do you do with because? You can’t do anything with because. You can’t build anything. You can’t discover. It’s not a curious enough question. I talk a lot in the training programs that I do around asking curiously. It’s critical as a negotiator to be curious about your counterpart. Asking what and how questions are far more effective in helping you gather information, show curiosity, and discover and uncover things that will help move your conversations forward and build a stronger relationship. I always tell people to eliminate why. Why also makes people immediately defensive.

They feel like they’re doing something wrong and they have to defend.

I have a mentor, Blair Dunkley. The audience keeps hearing me talk about him. I interviewed him in the program. He’s got some amazing stuff. Asking effective questions is critical. If somebody is at the negotiation table and not showing and demonstrating that they are curious about their counterpart, you’re not going to get a good deal. That’s huge. That’s a great example. Thank you for sharing that. In your situation, doing many David and Goliath and negotiations, we’ve talked about asking effective questions and being curious.

We talked about changing the nature of a negotiation. What are some of the other amazing things? One of the things I like about you, Matthew, is that you are a nurturing person. I can tell the way that you approach a negotiation and you talked about it in terms of why you went into sales. That relationship-based component is important for you and building those relationships is important. If you had to pick three things that you thought were critical to your success as a negotiator, what would those be?

Empathy would probably be my first one. If you’re understanding what the other side cares about and you put yourself in their shoes, if you have the empathy for what matters to them, it gives you that high view of the whole situation where you can make rational decisions or, in our case, good proposals. Something that you know will resonate with them because you know what they care about. I don’t even know if I can come up with three. Empathy is number one when you’re going into a negotiation. People always think of negotiation as war. There’s got to be a winner and a loser. We’re all born that way from being competitive, playing sports, or music. Whatever you’re competitive in, you want to be the best. It’s like, “I need to win and they need to lose.” Sometimes people care more about them losing than you winning.

I have a name for those people. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of them. Fortunately, there’s only about 10% of negotiators who negotiate that way as their default. For the readers, if you text VENN to 26786 or go to our website at VennNegotiation.com, you can take a quiz to learn what your default negotiation style is.

Negotiate Better: People tend to get excited talking about their product or service, but it’s very important to deal with the process component upfront.

 

I’ve done it. It was great. You got my style back.

What was it again? Were you an ambassador?

I think so.

You were an ambassador. This style that you’re talking about is a champion and there are only about 10% of people but they do represent. When people think about negotiation, they think that most people are this winner take all, “I’m going to annihilate you.” Negotiation is a battle and its war. It’s like The Art Of War. It’s all Sun Tzu, rape and pillage, and destroy and conquer. That’s not. I have a saying that somebody on my team helped me come up with that embodies my philosophy on negotiation and that is negotiation is nothing more than a conversation about a relationship. There is no win in a relationship.

I love that. That’s great. Are you familiar with Simon Sinek?

No.

He wrote a book Find Your Why about your purpose and he has one that’s called The Infinite Game. We’re living to perpetuate the game and keep it moving. You don’t win business. You’re constantly playing and you’re playing to be the best that you can but you don’t win business. People who feel like negotiations have to be a winner and a loser. You’re going into it with a war mindset. I don’t think that you can get what you want because your counterpart is not going to get what they wanted. You hear things like, “Both sides should feel good when you come out of the negotiation.” I’ve heard people tell me the exact opposite, “If you did well in the negotiation, both sides will feel like they lost.” It’s like, “How can it be both?” You hear people say, “Both sides feel like they win or both sides feel like they lost.” I’m like, “I don’t know which one is right. They both make sense.”

To your original question, empathy is first. Number two is trust. If you can build trust and rapport with the person, there’s going to be a few things in every agreement. These contracts I look at usually are anywhere between 18 pages on the low end and 30 on the high end. They’re huge. There’s always going to be a few little things that you don’t love. When you feel like, “The lawyer said this but we’re going to do right,” that’s how we operate. When you have that trust with the person, the little things go by the wayside. You say, “Let’s agree on the big things and make sure those are right.” The little nitty-gritty stuff, at the end of the day, probably will never come up. It’s like winning the business aspect of the negotiation versus the law aspect. I’m not a lawyer. I didn’t learn contracts in college. I learned how to talk and find common ground, uncover needs, and then settle to this. This is the stuff that I learned. Empathy and then trust.

The last part if I have to come up with three is to be someone they want to do business with. Be a good person. You had a great saying. I loved your definition of negotiation. My little saying is everything is people. Not people are everything but everything is people. It’s important because you can boil anything down to the people behind it, whether it’s a business, a process, a procedure. Whatever it is in life, you can boil it down to everything as people. If you’re empathetic to them and they trust you, business is much easier. That’s the way we operate our business. Why we’ve been doing well and growing is because we want to be good people to do business with. When your other side feels like they’re missing out and not working with you, all of a sudden, they’re more agreeable to your terms.

When I hear you talk about the things that I love, there’s a lot that you do that resonates with how I approach negotiation as well. You’re always thinking, “What’s that long-term look like?” What’s the long-term in terms of the fiduciary responsibility you have for the company but also, what’s that long-term relationship piece looks like? How does that grow? How do we grow that? Through the stories and examples that you’ve shared, you’re constantly looking for it. It embodies the notion of negotiation being a relationship.

When we go into a negotiation, people tend to focus on what they want. Even then, they don’t often have clarity on what they want. They have a high-level view of what they want but they are not clear on all the things that they want. They don’t understand their trade-offs well. They fixate on that. They become myopically focused on that and they lose the opportunity to create more value for both parties because they’re only looking at their side of things. They are not paying attention to what their counterpart means and what their counterpart wants to be successful. Empathy is important to be able to uncover that because it creates trust. Having empathy creates the opportunity for trust. With trust comes transparency.

When you have transparency in a negotiation, you’re able to collaboratively problem solve in a way that will blow your mind in terms of discovering what value exists. I guarantee you and there’s research that shows it that when we’re negotiating for something that’s a total of 100%, we think it’s 100%, but it’s 142% because most negotiations ignore 42% of the value that exists around it. They’re so myopically focused on that thing, whatever it is, that they don’t see what that other 42% is. When you take that and you have that transparency that comes from that trust to explore that, now you’re negotiating from a position of abundance instead of scarcity. That opens up the entire world in terms of what you can accomplish in the negotiation.

Everything is people. Click To Tweet

I hate when people put themselves in a box and they say things like, “I’m not a good negotiator. I can’t be good at negotiation. I’m not a salesperson. I’m not this. I’m not that.” They feel like, “I wasn’t born to be great at this out of the box and I’m not willing to learn.” What I love about what you said is you’ve been an expert negotiator on a global scale with the biggest companies on Earth. You said that you’re taking three classes on how to be even better. I love that. Anybody who doesn’t have a learning mindset of, “I can always get better,” are either learning and going up or you’re losing and going down. There’s no in the middle. I love the fact that you’re learning.

I believe that some people can be born with certain given abilities that naturally make them good at certain activities like negotiating. I came from an Italian, mostly immigrant family and we negotiated for everything. I have two brothers similar in age and we are competitive. I’ve started out negotiating everything. I feel like I had a good start, but no one’s naturally good at it. You have to learn. You have to read books on it, learn from experts like you, listen to podcasts, listen to the people who have done their best, and read and study it to get better.

Negotiations generally feel maybe icky or scary or make people anxious. Anxiety is probably the number one reason why people hate it. They’re like, “I don’t like it so I can never be good at it.” How much value do you put on natural abilities, even as far as being attractive or having a pleasant voice? By the way, you have a pleasant voice. I am sure that naturally helps you when you’re negotiating for Venn Zone or one of these other companies. How much do you feel is God-given ability? How much do you feel is important in what you learn and get better at? What’s your opinion on that?

I know you love working with kids so I always bring this back to children. I have three kids and I remember when they were little. The way that I describe this is that our ability to negotiate is something that is innate to every human being and you see it in children. You see it in how a child asks a mom for something versus their father versus a grandparent versus a teacher or a family friend. As a child, they adjust how they ask for something and they are persistent in how they ask for it. What happens is that we develop a style and we figure out a way of behaving that works for us as children.

If you were a child who threw temper tantrums, jumped up and down, screamed and yelled, and called people names, I am sure you’re still doing that. You might not be doing it in exactly the same way, but you are probably still doing that. I don’t know about you, but I have been in many negotiations where I have had my counterpart calling me names, throwing things, being demeaning, and screaming and yelling. That person did not mature their negotiation skills beyond that seven-year-old child.

Also, you’ve got the children who ran away to their room, shut the door and stuck their head on their pillow, and stayed until everything blew over and appeared to go away. If you were one of those children and that was how you dealt with conflict and you didn’t ask for what you want because you were afraid of no, you are still doing that. Maybe you’re not running to your bedrooms, stuffing your head under your pillow, or hiding behind a door or something, but you’re still doing that. From the time we’re small children to the time we’re teenagers, we start hearing no more.

When we start hearing no, we start to become afraid of that no because no implies a judgment on us. I asked for something and I didn’t get it. Therefore, I was being judged in some way and I failed in some way. I am a constant student of negotiation and I’ve taken so many courses. It’s crazy. I went to Harvard Business School where the discipline of negotiation became a discipline. I was taught by the professors who wrote Getting to Yes and Getting Past No, and they’re amazing. Negotiation is taught the same way, everywhere in every class I’ve ever taken.

We do not teach people how to stop being their seven-year-old self as an adult in a negotiation. We don’t create opportunities to say, “When you were seven, you knew how to negotiate with your mom in this way because she behaved this way. Your dad this way because he was this way.” We don’t bring that capability back. In the negotiation styles quiz, you have a default. What happens is everyone goes to that default style without practicing any of the other styles, which they do use. They just don’t use them with intent. I also get a lot of people who say, especially small businesses, “I don’t negotiate.”

They think that negotiation is this point in time activity that is a meeting or is something, but it’s not. You’re constantly negotiating. Negotiation is something that we are all innately gifted at doing. It’s something that separates us from the rest of God’s creatures, but it’s something that we’re not taught to do and we’re not taught to be intentional about it. Part of what I’m hoping to change is because negotiation is a conversation about a relationship and all relationships require us to be intentional, that your conversation and your negotiation should be intentional. I’m trying to elevate that in the conversation.

I love what you said about kids. I have a seven-year-old boy and we call him a master manipulator. He is amazing in negotiating. He can tell you all the reasons why he should be able to do something. “Have you thought of this? What about that? You said this last time.” He’s amazing. Some people on my team said one time, “I’ve got to go and buy a new car. I would rather blow my brains out than have to go deal with the negotiations with the sales guy in the car lot.”

Personally, I’m thinking, “I love car buying day. I love going a lot. I love the game. I can’t wait. It’s usually me versus some 23-year-old kid who’s been working at the car dealership for six months. I’m ready to roll.” They’ve gone from being good at it as a kid to now as an adult, they’re like, “I hate going to buy a car because of the whole negotiation process.” The sales guy said, “Let me go check with my boss on that price.” That whole game. I love it but most people hate it. It’s funny that you mentioned that kids are naturally good at it.

Somewhere in our birth to becoming an adult, it becomes icky. It also made me think when you were talking, I was like, “We don’t teach this stuff.” You have decided, “This is my career path.” You’ve got to love it. When you got into Venn Zone and they put you on international negotiation, which to me is crazy that you came out of school and they’re like, “Join the international negotiation team.” That’s an awesome story as someone who came out of school. What I was getting at was we don’t teach it.

Negotiate Better: Kids are naturally good at negotiating, but somewhere in our growth it becomes icky.

 

Me, as a business leader, most of the people that are on my team are in the mid-20s to early-30s. I’m expecting them to negotiate with people like you who work at huge corporations and are pros. I’m expecting them to negotiate and I have not equipped them with anything. You don’t learn this in college. You went to a specific course for a specific reason at Harvard to learn negotiation, but if you just go get a business degree or a psychology degree or even a communications degree, there’s no negotiation course.

When you get into your work world and you have to negotiate for things, in our case, almost every day, nobody teaches you how to be good. This is a misstep that we, as business leaders and universities, are missing. Why are we not teaching a skill? Chris Voss says, “On an average day, you negotiate between 6 and 7 times.” Just for your everyday course of what you’re doing. None of us have ever taken a real class or any instruction on how to be good at this. It’s crazy. We need more people like you who are educating the masses on why this is important and how to be good at it because most of us don’t like it. It doesn’t feel comfortable.

It’s considered part of the same category that public speaking is. It’s considered a social phobia, which when you peel it back becomes this fear of judgment, of being judged by somebody. When you’re engaging in a negotiation, you’re inviting that judgment and that is the part that feels icky for a lot of people. Same with public speaking, they’re putting themselves in front of somebody, giving them an opportunity to judge them. Our brain is like, “Don’t do that.” It’s trying to protect us because we’re afraid of that. Negotiation training has largely been reserved for attorneys.

I get all the time, “Aren’t you an attorney?” I’m like, “No.” They’re like, “I thought only lawyers negotiated.” I’m like, “No.” In fact, a study came out by either Institute for Supply Management or the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management. It showed that something like 70% of major corporations no longer uses attorneys for most of their contracting work. Most of their contracting work is done by people like me, who are in contract management and procurement, and they do most of that work now. It’s a huge switch.

One of the things that’s interesting about negotiation trading programs for the most part and part of what I’m super excited about Venn Masters because it’s so different in terms of the things I’m using to teach people. In most programs, you get a case and it’s like, “Here’s your role.” You go read your roles and study your roles. You figure out what you’re going to do. You come together, negotiate, and then go back and report out what you did.

They score you and I’m like, “That is the most ineffective way of teaching.” You’ve lost nothing. In my programs, people get broken up. We do cases, but they’re different and unusual. They get your brain to think in a different way. I come in and I observe, and it’s like, “What if you heard the question in this way? Do you think you might have responded differently? What if you use this piece of information?” I’m trying to help people see that there’s a different way of negotiating and being and helping people see that their style of negotiation is potentially negatively impacting the outcome and they don’t even realize it.

To me, it’s a much more hands-on, more personalized approach to teaching negotiation. I’m using examples like Sesame Street. People can relate to Sesame Street. They can’t relate to how peace is being negotiated or not and failed peace negotiations in the Middle East. How do you take that learning and break it down and bring it down to where the person who you’re teaching is at? That’s important to me and it’s something that I’m passionate about bringing into Venn Masters. Did you have any more questions?

To go back, I was asking, do you feel like the given abilities are more important than the learning? Clearly, you answered that. There’s a lot to learn. If you want to be good at this, you need to care about it, seek it out, and then learn. It’s nice to have a pleasant voice. Being mildly attractive does help in negotiation. There are all these things that we don’t have any control over, but you can compensate for what you’re not given by learning and by picking up some good tactics. There are lots of tactics out there. I’m sure you’ve heard mirroring and different things like that help you get to where you want to be.

I want to say something about attractiveness. Empathy trumps that. Some people are more empathetic than others. One’s ability to meet their counterpart where they’re at, see their counterpart and listen intently, listen with their whole body. Listening is a full-contact activity. According to a UCLA study, only 7% of communication is about the words that we speak, 38% is about the tone and pace of speech, and 55% of it is nonverbal.

When we’re listening, we have to listen with our eyes as much as we’re listening with our ears. If somebody is wearing a certain type of perfume, there’s communication in that. Communication is a lot more all-encompassing. Empathy trumps physical attractiveness. Attractiveness can hurt you sometimes in the negotiation. An attractive woman is often discounted. I’m wanting to create a program and work with somebody who specializes in this to help create it. If anybody’s reading and this is your expertise, please reach out to my team.

Attractive women in negotiation become sexualized and it can be demeaning, controlling, and challenging. It can be subtle sometimes, but sometimes, it can be quite overt. Sometimes, being attractive, especially as a woman, can be a detriment in the negotiation. It’s something to overcome. For men, it’s different. A man who knows he’s attractive walks in and he has a level of bravado potentially in how he presents himself that makes him feel more confident. He may appear to be a better negotiator. It’s just the people in the room may be giving him a benefit of the doubt and might not necessarily be given otherwise. Regardless, empathy trumps all of that.

I like that you said if you’re empathetic, and then the people trust you. The other factors, what you look like and what you sound like don’t matter at all. As a word of advice to me and other small businesses, people who are negotiating with these giants, can you tell us your thoughts on phone versus video conference versus in person? I always tell my executives, “Get in front of these people. You can be a real jerk on email. If you’re negotiating terms back and forth on email, you can be a real jerk.”

You're either learning or losing. There's no middle ground. Click To Tweet

People will hide behind email or text messages or whatever. As soon as you get them on the phone, they’re a little bit nicer. As soon as you see them in person, they’re a whole heck of a lot nicer. You’re building that trust before. You can read the room. You can see the visual cues. I’m always pushing towards face-to-face, but with COVID, we can only do so much. Video is the next best. That’s my view, but I’d love to know your expertise.

You and I are aligned on that. Most of my negotiation for years has been on this David and Goliath stuff. Many big companies have distributed negotiation teams. They have somebody in Ireland, France, India, and Texas. Sometimes, those people have never even met it physically. They have this distributed negotiation team. In the last twenty years or so, maybe I’ve traveled a handful of times for a negotiation. I am a huge fan of video and I will go on video even if my counterpart chooses not to because, for me, it’s a way of demonstrating transparency.

It makes them a little uncomfortable because they’re not being transparent. One time, I had an issue within my own business and somebody started texting me. I was like, “This is too much to be talking about over text. Just pick up the phone.” I was like, “Can we jump on Zoom?” We were having a tense discussion. They use Google Meet and I was like, “Whatever. I’ll jump on that. That’s fine.” For me, email is absolutely horrific. I hate email. Do not use it to negotiate terms.

I use email for clarification and confirmation, but I do not like it for introducing a new issue or a new topic or, “What are your thoughts on this?” If you want my thoughts on something, call me. Reach out to me. I’ll use text for certain things. Some people prefer text. In the negotiation quiz, we wanted to figure out a simplistic down and dirty way of saying, “How does this person communicate?” We’ve broken people down into either traditional communicators or modern communicators. Traditional communicators like emails and long meetings. Modern communicators want bullet points and texts.

Know which one you are and know which one your counterpart is and adapt accordingly. If I negotiate, I never answer the phone. I always call. If a counterpart is calling me, I will let that roll to voicemail, and then I will call back. I don’t want to get caught off guard with something. I want to understand what my agenda is on the call and be intentional about that. I definitely prefer video and in-person. I’ve had a lot of conversations with people on the video because a lot of people, especially in sales, are accustomed to in-person meetings. That’s how the sales universe works or has worked up until 2020.

The thing that we lose in a video versus an in-person meeting is the ability to stand up and walk to a whiteboard and problem-solve together. I encourage people to use a prop, grab notebooks, draw circles, create a problem, figure out how to use a whiteboard situation on Zoom, and create more of a workspace. I also tell people to spend more time away from the camera. Move away and get a good mic so that you can move away more from the camera. I was on the phone with somebody and he was sitting far enough back, but he didn’t unfold his arms. He asked me, “We’re trying to figure out how to teach more junior people how to negotiate more effectively through Zoom.”

I said, “Try moving your body. Lean in, lean out. Act like you’re in person. Use your hands.” To do that, you need to have a good green screen and a good mic. If you try to do that and not have a good green screen or background or no green screen at all, then it gets distracting. I said to my husband, “I find that I’m starting to get frustrated when people make a phone call and they’re not on video.” It is interesting because I had a call and it was somebody who was prospecting me. “They were not on video and I was.” The comment was, “I’m not video-ready.”

My interpretation of that was, “This call is not important enough for you to get video-ready. You could not spend 5 to 10 minutes putting a brush through your hair.” I won’t do business with that person because of that. This is going to be the standard. Video calling is the standard. Get used to it and figure out how you can do shortcuts to be video-ready because not being on camera when somebody else is, is going to start impacting your business negatively.

I’ve been telling my sales team, “If you had just video called one of your customers out of the blue, it would have been weird.” They would be like, “Why are you video chatting me? This is weird.” Now, it’s totally normal business as usual and it will continue that way. There are a lot of great tools coming out. We found this one that you record a one-minute video where you say like, “My name is Matthew. I’m with Agile. I want to help you,” with whatever you know about their business. It shows up as a video in their email. They don’t have to put anything. You’re just in their email as a video. In 2019, that product would have been weird and people would have thought it was terrible. It’s killing it in 2020 because with the advent of video for everything, those types of communication things are commonplace, useful, and totally unique.

They’re going to keep coming. Matthew, how can people find you? You worked in Atlanta and you have offices in Miami. How can they find more about Agile?

You can find me on LinkedIn, Matthew Marini. My name is unique. Connect with me. For Agile, our website is GoToAgile.com. Mostly what we focus on are developers, guys that are in DevOps and cloud, and then we get into the project management space being our name is Agile. People in Agile practice are what we’re good at. Go to our website. I’m on there, too. You can find me there and then connect with me on LinkedIn. This has been great. Thank you for having me on. It’s been fun to chat about negotiation.

Thank you, Matthew. You’ve been an awesome guest. I appreciate it. Please reach out to Matthew for IT staffing needs. He’s got an amazing group of people and an amazing team. He is a heart-centered guy. I’m excited to help support you in growing your business. Thank you to everyone for reading. It’s so great to have you here. I look forward to seeing you on our next episode of In the Venn Zone. Have a great day, everyone. Cheers.

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About Matthew Marini

IVZ 11 | Negotiate BetterWorking as the President of Agile means I get to help people become excellent technical recruiters and account managers and take their careers to a new level. I have learned through experience that if you treat people you are working with the way you would like to be treated, success will follow. I am here to hire, train and develop business professionals into leaders in the technical staffing industry.

I have been growing and leading teams in the IT consulting and staffing industry for the past 8 years and been in the industry of finding people new job for over 13 years.

My free time is devoted to my family. When the opportunity presents itself, I enjoy golfing and most outdoor activities. My volunteer time is focused on kids (not my own). I work as a mentor for YearUp and my wife and I have been foster parents for children in our community for the past 3 years.