Finding a reliable supplier is crucial for success as a retail business owner. Not only do you need a seller who is capable of delivering high-quality products on time, but the cost of doing business with that supplier needs to make sense. That’s why learning how to negotiate with B2B suppliers is essential.
This post will cover everything you need to know about negotiating with powerful suppliers and getting the best deals.
Preparing for B2B negotiations
Preparation is key in any business arrangement, and B2B negotiations are no different. By adequately preparing, you can show up confidently for negotiations with suppliers and get the best deals for your business.
Here are a few steps you can take to prepare for negotiating with powerful suppliers.
Research the product
It is very important to understand what you’re asking for when you go into negotiations. It will help to make sure you get the best trade terms, and it will help prevent you from being taken advantage of.
Get an idea of what the norms are for sourcing your products of interest. Explore how the product is priced, what features to look for, and what sort of delivery time can be expected.
Outline your needs
Once you have a solid understanding of the lay of the land, it is time to outline your needs. Think about how many of the units you need and how often you’ll need to restock. If you’d like the items to be customized, make a note of that, as well.
At this stage, you should differentiate between your “preferences” and “must-haves.” For example, do you absolutely need the products by a specific date, or would it be nice to have them in that time frame?
It is important to prepare a list of questions for potential vendors to ensure that they are able to meet the needs discussed above. You can use these questions to create a checklist to make sure that the supplier is willing and able to meet the demands of your business.
Your questions could include everything from “what is the average delivery time frame?” to “do you use sustainable packaging?”
Compile a list of wholesale suppliers
In order to negotiate with suppliers, you’re going to need to find a variety of potential candidates for your sourcing needs. You can find suppliers on e-commerce marketplaces, such as Alibaba.com.
Reviews and testimonials are very helpful at this stage. They will give you more insight into what it looks like to work with each supplier. Look for suppliers with reviews that remark on the consistent quality of the products, ability to meet deadlines, fair pricing, and good communication skills.
How to negotiate with powerful suppliers
Each negotiation process will look a little bit different, but generally, it starts with an inquiry. As the buyer, you can cast a wide net and request quotes from a variety of sellers. Once the sellers provide quotes and you see who could possibly meet your needs, you can move into more formal negotiations.
Negotiations can take place in person, on the phone, or in messages over the internet. The seller lays out exactly what they can offer, and the buyer comes back with questions and requests. It is normal for there to be a bit of back and forth before a deal is reached.
With that in mind, here are a few important things to keep in mind throughout the negotiation process.
Choose a strategy
Strategy is important when negotiating deals with B2B suppliers, and luckily, there are several strategies to consider.
One popular sales strategy is the “good guy/bad guy” technique. Basically, the sales representative acts like they’d like to give you a better deal, but a decision-maker is standing in the way. As a buyer, you can flip this situation around and ask to speak directly with the decision-maker. This lets the salesperson know that you are not interested in playing games and that you are serious about making a mutually beneficial deal.
Another technique is “the subtle art of walking away.” This is when a buyer walks away from what the supplier says is the lowest price they can go with the intention of coming back if the supplier does, in fact, go lower.
Demand exact pricing
During negotiations, some suppliers might try to give you a price range. This is acceptable in the early discovery stages, but during more serious price negotiations, knowing an exact price is important.
Don’t sign a deal until you know exactly how much it is going to cost you.
Leverage other offers
One powerful negotiation tactic is leveraging other offers to get the best terms or pricing. A supplier may be willing to match or beat a competitor’s offer in order to secure the contract.
Let’s say, for example, Supplier A offers 10,000 units for $3500 with free expedited shipping, and Supplier B offers 10,000 units for $3250 plus $200 for standard shipping. You could let Supplier B know that their competitor is offering free expedited shipping, or let Supplier A know that their competitor gave a quote that was $250 lower.
Smart suppliers know that giving buyers a lower price on the first offer can help to secure a business relationship that will yield great returns.
Be confident and firm
Confidence is key in any negotiations. Other than being prepared and knowledgeable about the deal you’ve negotiated, being firm can help to exude confidence.
It’s worth noting that being completely rigid and unwilling to waiver may not work in your favor. After all, negotiations are back-and-forth processes to find a solution that benefits both the buyer and seller. Go into negotiations with a little bit of flexibility to make “meeting in the middle” a bit more comfortable.
With the proper preparation, it is possible to successfully negotiate with powerful suppliers to get the best deal and lowest price for your business. If you are well-informed about what you are looking for and confident in your procurement negotiations, closing a deal that makes sense for your business should be easy and attainable.
For more tips and resources for B2B buyers, please check out the Alibaba.com Business Blog Center.