Negotiating is not the easiest thing to do and sometimes it can seem as if negotiating with suppliers is far from easy; so if you are new to the world of negotiating then it may be worth taking some time to go through just what you should and shouldn’t do when you are negotiating with suppliers…..

1. First of all it is important to set yourself some goals for the negotiating before you even enter into the negotiations. If you don’t have any clear goals then it will be hard for you to negotiate effectively. Goals will help give your negotiations a focus and also act as a strategy for the negotiations. So take time to figure out exactly what the process will be if it is successful; what will you and your company take away from the negotiations?
2. One thing that you should try to do is to look at the negotiations from the perspective of the supplier. If you were the supplier, what would you want from the negotiations? What would be satisfactory for you? What would be fantastic for you and what would be an insult to your business? Looking at things from the perspective of the supplier really helps you to get a good rounded look at what the negotiating process will involve and what both parties will be looking for. It does take time to do it, but it is worth it in the end.
3. It is also helpful to make a list of priorities and identify before the negotiations which you will be prepared to relax and which will be required to clinch the deal.
4. Consider who you are negotiating with – is it a decision maker? Or will they have to take this to their manager? Knowing who makes the decisions is vital in supplier negotiation.
5. Forget the old days when negotiating was done with a stick and the supplier was seen as very much the inferior partner. Now the emphasis is very much on establishing mutually beneficial relationships that can be helpful to you both. Of course you’ll come across a range of suppliers – and you’ll need tactics to cover each (consider our article on How to deal with difficult suppleirs). So treat the supplier with some respect and they are more likely to respect you.
6. Do not try to keep all the information secret. You will be expected to share some information with your suppliers. This could be about expected or anticipated demand, it could be about future expansion plans etc; but if you shroud the whole process of negotiation in secrecy, then you will not get very far. Consider how an Open book policy with your supplier may assist you in achieving your aims.
7. Conversely, take care not to simply share ALL your sensitive information and data with suppliers! You have to find a balance between being relatively open and not leaving yourself too vulnerable. This is quite difficult and to some extent will rely on your experience and business acumen to know just how much you can share and what should be kept secret.
8. Do not get too hung up on price. Price is a really important issue, but you are seeking to establish a good relationship with the supplier, so you need to think about other things, apart from price. Quality and reliability are as important as price. Often if you buy things ‘cheap’ they can cost you plenty, if they are not fit for purpose, so give due consideration to the issues of quality and reliability.
9. When negotiating with suppliers pay particular heed to how they can help you when things go wrong and indeed whether they will help you. Often the best suppliers are those who will really pull all the stops out to assist when everything is going wrong. So find out just how much emphasis they put on customer care. If they don’t care about their customers then there is no point carrying out the negotiations any further; just walk away.
10. The final point in any negotiating process is simply to be persistent and try to reach a deal that is mutually satisfactory to you both and in that way, the best possible outcome is probably within your grasp; Congratulations!

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