Gayla Sullivan

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Gayla Sullivan
Research Director
1 year at Gartner
17 years IT Industry

Gayla Sullivan is a research director in Gartner's IT Asset Management and Procurement team within the Architecture and IT Business group. Ms. Sullivan leverages her experience in IT procurement, sourcing, contracting and vendor management to assist IT leaders with licensing, pricing, terms and conditions, and contract negotiation strategies for major software vendors, with a focus on Microsoft. Read Full Bio

Poker Faces and Team Negotiations

by Gayla Sullivan  |  August 13, 2012  |  Comments Off

Like the rest of the world, I was glued to the TV the past couple of weeks watching the Olympics into the wee hours of the morning.  While the Olympic games have ended for now, I know they’ve left lingering impressions on many of us in a variety of ways. 

While the displays of athleticism were astounding, to me it was equally interesting to watch the reactions of both parents and competitors alike as the events unfolded. One theme of human nature was clearly evident throughout the games: Extreme disappointment and overwhelming joy are difficult for us to hide.

One the younger competitors, the amazing Russian gymnast, 17-year old Aliya Mustafina, particularly stood out for me. Mustafina’s non-verbal cues were quite easy to read.  We never had to guess what she was feeling.  Whether it was joy, anger or sadness, it was there for all the world to see.

It’s especially difficult for young competitors to try to mask emotions or to be gracious to fellow athletes when tensions are high.  But, is it really that much easier for us as adults, managers, IT professionals?  Do we feel less when we are faced with disappointment or even when we get our way? 

How often does this hurt us in negotiations, in meetings, or performance reviews?  Sometimes it is a huge disadvantage for others to “see” what’s on our minds. Even a subtle glance across the table to a colleague can speak volumes if someone is paying attention.  

As adults and business people, we are expected to control our emotions and represent our companies appropriately.  We have to stick to facts, rather than feelings, while executing strategies that will help us win a deal, achieve improved contract terms, get better pricing or (from a personal perspective) maybe get a promotion.

Sometimes our faces tell a very different story than our words, causing us to not be taken seriously, or worse, to completely lose credibility. Mastering control of our own non-verbal cues, while observing them in others, can give us an advantage in negotiating, building relationships, management and career advancement.

While face-to-face negotiations may have declined in recent years, in favor of conference calls, they still occur. Some organizations also employ team-based negotiations, introducing even more dynamics to manage in a face-to-face environment. It can be difficult enough to negotiate one-on-one. Face-to-face team negotiations can present issues where inexperienced negotiators are present. 

However, with a little planning, team negotiations can be effectively managed.  Here are ten tips to keep in mind for successful “team” negotiations:

  1. Document standard operating procedures, including non-verbal communication guidelines, and share them with all team members in advance of negotiations.
  2. Meet with the team prior to the negotiation to cover the procedures. Establish who will lead discussions and how members can appropriately add input on specific topics.
  3. Keep attendees to a minimum.
  4. Know who you are meeting with from the other side. Understand their roles, experience, history and personalities.
  5. Establish clear goals upfront and stay on track during the session.
  6. Understand and impart the value of silence to team members.
  7. Create a verbal phrase to let team members know when a break is needed to regroup.
  8. Don’t threaten, don’t bluff.
  9. Don’t be afraid of an impasse.  This may not be the right partnership for your enterprise.
  10. Disagree, argue, and negotiate, but demonstrate verbal and non-verbal respect for the people involved (on both sides).

 If you’d like to deepen your negotiating skills, and better understand non-verbal communications, join us at Gartner’s IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit in Orlando, Florida next month and attend our session with guest speaker, Joe Navarro. As a former FBI special agent, Joe has 25 years of experience in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral assessment. Today he is one of the world’s leading experts on nonverbal communications and lectures and consults with major corporations worldwide.  Learn techniques directly from the master as well as from Gartner analysts with our many negotiating clinics and tutorial sessions.

Register now at

Comments Off

Category: Uncategorized     Tags: , , , ,

Remembering Titanic and a Few Lessons Learned

by Gayla Sullivan  |  July 26, 2012  |  Comments Off

This year, on April 15th, we acknowledged the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic in a variety of ways.  We remembered, with reverence, the lives lost on that fateful night.  Ceremonies commenced on land in Belfast where the giant ship was built, and over sea where the MS Balmoral stopped to observe a moment of silence at the estimated spot where Titanic sank. On a lighter note,  Hollywood saw fit to  re-release of James Cameron’s film, Titanic, this time in 3D.

September of this year marks the 27th anniversary of the discovery of the wreckage of Titanic by Dr. Robert Ballard.  Dr. Ballard will be Gartner’s guest keynote speaker at this year’s U.S. ITAM, Finance & Procurement Summit.

We’ve learned much from analyzing the cause of disasters. In fact, we can apply that knowledge to Software License Compliance – an endeavor that resembles a voyage in presumably calm waters

Ten “Lessons Learned” to Apply to Software Compliance

  1. The most expensive, grandest tools in the world are meaningless without effective processes and policies.
  2. There are always a few people walking around in denial trying to act as if there is no problem.
  3. No process is infallible, and no ship unsinkable, no matter how much you might want to believe it so.
  4. Once you know there is a problem, relief may come too late and probably won’t stop the ship from sinking.
  5. One front line person can make all the difference in preventing or averting disaster.
  6. There are always executives who have lofty goals and believe conservative practices are a waste of time – They are wrong.
  7. Smart people sometimes fail. Vigilance and proper planning are key.
  8. If a well-meaning person tells you everything is fine and you can go back to what you were doing, it’s best to find out for yourself.
  9. Panic is not our friend.
  10. Teamwork is critical.

To illustrate this last point, an account shared by Titanic survivor, Dr. Washington Dodge, on April 20, 1912, shows that the value of teamwork was clearly evident for those Titanic passengers who had made it to a row boat.

In my boat when we found ourselves afloat we also found that the four oars were secured with strands of tarred rope. No man in the crowd had a pocket knife, but one had sufficient strength in his fingers to tear open one of the strands. That was the only way in which we got our boat far enough away from the Titanic’s side to escape the volume of the condenser pumps.

“Here is another thing that I want to emphasize; only one of all the boats set adrift from the vessel’s side had a lantern. We had to follow the only boat that had one, and if it had not been for that solitary lantern possibly many of the other boats might have drifted away and gone down.”

It only takes one solitary lantern, to lead the way to safety for others…

Visit us at the ITAM Summit, September 12 -14, in Orlando and listen to keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Ballard, share his experience in discovering the Titanic in 1985 along with his advice on how to motivate out-of-the-box thinking, deal with failure, inspire children and live your dream.  We also hope to help you “shed some light” on software compliance issues through our many tutorials and clinics.  Hope to see you there.

Register here:


Comments Off

Category: Uncategorized     Tags: , , , , ,