Author: Kim Kisenja
Succeeding in Sweden – the key to negotiating successful deals
Excedea works with ambitious, international growth-minded companies. Recently market entry to Sweden – the biggest market in the Nordics- has been in the planning and execution projects of many Excedea clients. A key topic in these projects is negotiations with existing or potential partners. We decided to write down some success factors and lessons learned to succeed in negotiations with Swedes.
In general, Swedes are internal consensus-oriented and value-seeking negotiation partners, who typically like to keep the formal distance. Internal consensus seeking results in the longer discussion process, because everyone must be onboard with the decision.
Swedish negotiation style
Rushing forward with the discussion will result in wasted time and energy. Due to the low hierarchy in the business culture, the partner will take the time they need for internal discussions.
Excedea had a case where one Finnish client came to us after losing cooperation partner in Sweden, because of a straight-forward negotiation/discussion process. After discussing the issue with both parties, it was clear that the Finnish counterpart thought all negotiations were done and the Swedes could be left to run the business, and they would ask for help if needed. The Swedish partner, on the other hand, felt there is no established relationship to commit fully to the partnership.
It is important to fixate the big picture and openly communicate your plans regarding the market, cooperation vision, the support provided, roles, volumes etc. For example, are you searching for a partner that would occasionally sell couple pallets, or are you considering Swedish market a key to your growth and you plan to sell 20 pallets per week?
Another case, where Excedea was involved in the negotiation with the new country manager, took years. This did not mean that the company was passively waiting all this time. They continued doing business in Sweden with the help of other resources e.g. previous country manager and third-party support. After the cooperation was signed, both parties were happy and had a common understanding of the long-term goals. Sometimes you might not have other suitable contacts you can use instead, but the case illustrates the need for spending time together before the deal- coffees, lunches, dinners etc.
When negotiating, the price is important, but generally fit the market and value to the client are for sure on top of the list for Swedish partners. Local references provide good proof of the market fit. If there is none, then the Nordic reference will most likely work but will have less influence.
It is important to keep the suggestions in mind when negotiating. However, if the discussion tends to drag for too long (standing still for couple months), then it is most likely the time to search for other alternatives. The market is big enough to have several well-matching candidates that you might find when searching for partners.
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