How To Negotiate With Vendors And Suppliers
Learning how to negotiate with vendors and suppliers could be a huge gold star if you are a purchasing manager or even if you just get stuck buying things for the office once in a while. Many people know the basics of how to negotiate, but until you put these things into practice its all just theory. So, in no particular order, are my tips for negotiating with a vendor.
This is an easy one, but a lot of people don’t think to ask for bulk discounts. They just pay the advertised price without thinking. Everything is negotiable and if you are willing to buy a lot of something, vendors will often entertain offers below their published price.
Negotiating with a vendor does not need to be contentious. People tend to think of the negotiation process like two grizzled veterans playing hardball until someone caves in. Good negotiations usually come from a place of trust and respect. Being friendly is not just the saleperson’s tool. If you can be chatty and make a joke or two, you’ll find that vendors who like you are more willing to lower their commission to make the sale.
As in any business practice, honesty is the best policy. No more needs to be said.
Educate Yourself On The Competition
Before meeting (or calling, emailing, etc.) with a vendor, be sure to thoroughly know their products, their prices – and the prices of their competition. There is no need to be deceitful about any of this. Just instruct them of what their competitors are offering (they may not know), and tell them that you are willing to buy right now if they can beat their competitor’s price.
Salespeople run into so many dead ends and false leads that they often jump at the chance to sell to someone that is actually ready to buy. They will often beat the competitor’s price to get the sale. If you try to cheat and make up a price for them to beat, you risk them not being able to accommodate your price and end up paying more.
Reveal Potential Future Sales
If you really expect to be purchasing more of Product X in the future, let them know. Show data that proves your case if possible.
Ask About Incentives
Some vendors cannot adjust their price much… unless you reach a certain level of sales. Then they can offer whatever you can negotiate. They may offer 2% rebate on annual sales, or pay for your company Christmas party… get creative!
Compromise and Collaborate
You need a fantastic price. They need to make a profit. It may sound like a cliche, but in order for the deal to work, both sides have to win. Ask their advice on ways to save money. They may have options you don’t even know about. Maybe they can offer different delivery options, or material construction, or… who knows? Ask what they can do!
Don’t Be Short-Sighted
If you are always chasing the cheapest deal, you may miss out on the savings a long-term supplier can give you. A loyal vendor may be more willing to make concessions or give incentives to keep you as a customer.
Don’t Be Pressured
A common sales tactic is to be very aggressive and put pressure on the buyer. Don’t fall for it. Tell them you need time to think about it. Be firm.
Explain Your Situation
One can never assume vendor understand our company, our industry, our specific situation, etc. Giving them more information may help them to understand your needs and tailor their prices/products more to your needs.
Prepare to Walk Away
One sales tactic is the ‘final price’. If they give you their final price, and you are not satisfied (hopefully you have a better price somewhere else already), thank them for their time and end the meeting. If they’re bluffing, you’ll hear from them in a few days.
Sometimes you’re getting the absolute best price already. What then? Ask for special delivery terms, service agreements, or whatever else you can think of.
There are many tactics for negotiation that can be tried. Master those on this list before learning more advanced skills for negotiation.