The C-Suite is something often debated in management circles. Occasionally, when the business landscape experiences a major shift, the optimal C-Suite is revisited. For example, the explosion of technology lead to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the explosion in data lead to the Chief Information Officer (CIO). However, we still feel there is one important player missing for this group. Every small business needs a Chief Negotiating Officer (CNO).
Most small business owners would agree on the importance of running lean and nimble. However, there is almost always one point that goes unmentioned. When you are running a small business, every single negotiation is a big deal, no matter the size. Especially in tough times, operating cash is your number one asset. Every dollar spent is one less dollar left for the next negotiation.
Why do we never hear about the CNO? Perhaps it is something that is overlooked or inconvenient to think about. Or perhaps some organizations do not have someone on their roster that fit the bill. Regardless, here are a few steps any small business owner can take to bring a CNO to their C-Suite.
What qualities should the CNO posses?
A CNO has to love “the art of the deal.” They have to be able to remove all emotion or personal feelings when negotiating a deal. Remember, it’s just business and any responsible agent of the organization is thinking this way. Also, the CNO needs to have patience. Almost all negotiations come down to “waiting it out.”
However, the CNO is NOT abrasive, overly-aggressive or rude, which are huge misconceptions. If the CNO is successfully separating the deal from personal feelings, then there’s no reason the two people involved should have any problems. In fact, the best CNO’s are able to forge positive relationships based on mutual understanding and respect, all while fighting the good fight.
Who should act as a CNO?
Founders, co-founders, or active business owners should ideally take on the roll of CNO. It must be a single person whose job it is to negotiate every single deal, no matter what part of the business it concerns. Office space, consultant fee, and advertising buy – it doesn’t matter. A single go-to person needs to run it.
If there’s no single person in your organization that has the chops for this all important role, invest in outside training. There are some really good seminars and training classes in most major cities. They may be pricey, but in the end the investment will pay off.
I can’t tell you how much money we saved early on by having a CNO. For example, when our business started to gain traction, we needed to purchase additional server space Equally as important, my counterpart in the negotiation and I now have a great working relationship. Just by being able to push back and not let anyone take advantage of my organization, BeenVerified, was the difference between success and failure. That money saved is one of the biggest reasons we were able to hang on during tough times, keep our team intact, and invest in ourselves or our business.
Ironically, a CNO is needed for a business of any size. It has been since commerce was invented and will remain a necessity even when we are living on the moon. Negotiating may not be as fun as say picking out a logo, but as we all know, business is not always fun and games.
What do you think? How does your organization handle the role of CNO?