Ms Category Management’s 9 Circles of Negotiation Hell

negotiation hell

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Negotiation Hell – A whole new level of torture!


We’ve all been in negotiations where it feels like you are stuck in purgatory or even limbo. Endless meetings, hardball tactics, the works. So join me for some fun and check out the nine levels of negotiation hell!


These can be some of the most stressful and drawn-out negotiations. It takes months and months and it feels like you are going no-where. Even after multiple levels of escalation to the C-Suite on both sides, no-one wants to give an inch in contract terms and conditions. You’re in a perpetual state of Limbo!


A business partner comes to you after they’ve approached their favorite supplier. And as it turns out, they don’t have the budget to get what they’ve asked for.

Now you’re left trying to figure out how to get a 100k virtual meeting for 50k! Sometimes demand management is your best friend when it comes to overzealous purchases and negotiation tactics.


The project starts with one set of deliverables in mind. That quickly changes and escalates to an increase in scope every month. They are adding new features to an IT system, that your company may not even need!

Your business partner is expanding the budget with no end in sight. You are brought in to negotiate and somehow get the supplier to stick with their original budget. Good luck with that!


A supplier has been slighted because you negotiated them to razor-thin profits. Now, they are looking to return the favor and for vengeance.

So they find work in another business area that you aren’t as familiar with and increase rates astronomically. And you are stuck going back trying to fix a major mistake!

So remember, just because you get them down for one project, doesn’t mean they won’t make it up on another and leave you in negotiation hell!


It’s one thing for a supplier not to like the procurement group, it’s another to bad mouth us to our internal business partners. (Who may or may not have added fuel to the fire).

Yes, it’s happened. And yes, the negotiations from that point on went horribly. It’s bad enough to know your suppliers may not like you, but it’s even worse to hear the business partners have the same sentiment!


Although I’ve never encountered physical violence when negotiating, there’s always a heated conversation when it comes to IT contracts. They have a solution (maybe the only one) that they know you need, and they are unwilling to budge.

It’s at this point where my blood boils (I’m just not a fan of a ‘take it or leave it’ relationships). And although I may want to meet them in the boxing ring for a round or two, I’ll save it for the negotiation table the next year when there is competition in the market place.


You are taking a look at the supplier’s rates and something just doesn’t add up. You take into consideration the team size, seniority, and years of overall experience as subject matter experts.

And then you figure it out during a call. They decided to use another baseline amount of standard hours (aside the 2080 everyone else uses) to inflate their rate.  Which only leaves you stuck in a vicious fight to the death over a simple calculation.


There is nothing worse than this last level of negotiation hell!

You start by having a negotiation plan with a business partner, and they promise not to speak to the supplier outside of the structured negotiations.

But low and behold, you find out they answered their last call or had dinner with them, and struck up a new deal. Or just completely undermined all the work you had put into the deal.

Either way, it’s the ultimate negotiation hell betrayal!

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Ms Category Management's 9 Circles of Negotiation Hell 1

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