NEGOTIATING: SLOWLY BUT SURELY

Deal-making can be a slow, sometime frustrating process; patience is a must.

Like most things in Indonesia, negotiating takes time. This is caused by factors ranging from government paperwork, to superstitions that dictate the right date to sign a deal. Decision-making can be a slow process. Because Indonesian decision-making is often based on consensus, proposals often pass through several levels, further hindering the process. This is especially true with ethnic Indonesians. Chinese enterprises, in contrast, often are run by one person and see faster decisions. In any event, Indonesians are patient negotiators, and you must be too.

Build support and rapport at all levels of an organization to increase the likelihood of a deal.

Relationships often play a big role in decisions. Sometimes it’s more important to be likable than to offer the best deal. Thus, it’s essential to further build your rapport and compatibility with your counterparts. You must build support at all levels of the other organization. Indonesians rely on advice from subordinates and make decisions by consensus. Thus it’s critical to build a multi-level coalition before going to the top for a final decision.

Use soft sales tactics, and leave room for bargaining.

Indonesians are seasoned negotiators, bartering frequently in their daily life, and they like to strike deals. Thus, avoid making your best offer first, and leave room for bargaining. They dislike aggressiveness, and thus it’s important to persuade or sell gently. Indonesians often prefer making deals in informal settings, such as over a meal or on a golf course.

Place gentle emphasis on contracts to avoid indicating lack of trust.

During the final stages of negotiations, bear in mind that Indonesians are likely to place less emphasis on contracts. This is because they feel relationships are more important. Putting supreme value on a contract can be seen as lack of trust and possibly harm or undo a deal. Also, contracts are seen as guidelines rather than precision documents. Thus, be aware that Indonesians might consider it acceptable to deviate from or modify a signed contract.

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