From Challenges to Triumph: J&J Snack Foods’ Procurement Team’s Path to Negotiation Excellence

Michael Sheridan joined J&J Snack Food, a leading and innovative snack food company, as head of procurement in early 2023. Right away he noticed that his procurement team, though talented and skilled in their trade, faced a few challenges while negotiating supplier and vendor contracts, as they were not formally versed in the nuances of negotiation. These included negotiating prices, lead times, and delivery terms, all while striving to maintain positive relationships with suppliers.

“SNI was flexible and willing to listen to our situation. They adapted to our needs and helped customize the training program, blending practical knowledge with theoretical aspects.” 

Michael Sheridan,
Head of Procurement, 
J&J Snack Foods 

Faced with a scenario ripe for change at J&J Snack Foods, Sheridan, with a keen eye for team growth and development, recognized the untapped potential within his procurement team. Identifying a need for formal negotiation training, he set his sights on partnering with the Shapiro Negotiations Institute (SNI), known for its adaptable and responsive approach to negotiation training. 

He was particularly compelled by SNI’s flexibility and willingness to tailor their program. His conviction in the value of specialized training, coupled with his strategic selection of SNI, garnered the management’s approval, thereby paving the way for a transformative journey for the procurement team. 

Enter SNI: The training transcended a typical classroom event, evolving into an immersive experience that navigated the team through real-life scenarios. This approach not only challenged them to think differently, engage actively, and strategize effectively but also facilitated a deeper understanding among team members about their individual negotiation skills. It highlighted their strengths, weaknesses, and areas needing improvement.

The team initially faced apprehension in negotiations, often hesitating to question or push back for fear of straining vendor relationships. The training provided them with tools to overcome this fear, emphasizing respectful yet assertive negotiations and teaching them that challenging the status quo is vital in defending the company’s interests. A significant takeaway was the role of empathy in understanding vendors’ perspectives, allowing for negotiations that find mutually beneficial common ground. This approach, blending assertiveness with empathy, became central to their negotiation strategy. 

Ultimately, the real measure of any training is in its practical application. The team at J&J Snack Foods experienced tangible results in four crucial areas: managing expectations around price increases, negotiating more favorable terms, improving lead times, and fostering lasting relationships. These achievements highlighted the training’s practical relevance and its immediate impact on their everyday procurement tasks. 

Sheridan observed the change instantly. Post-training, the team not only emerged with enhanced skills but also with a renewed sense of confidence. They began approaching negotiations with a new perspective, marked by thorough preparation, strategic thinking, and improved communication. 

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