Most people don’t like to negotiate, but as a buyer at Booyah! this is 90% of my professional life (and about 100% of my personal life). People call negotiating an art, a skill – I don’t think it’s either. You either like to do it or you don’t. You’re either good at it or you’re not. Either way, if you are in this line of work, you better know how to negotiate effectively, respectfully and with a little bit of sass.
As we all know, everything good that happens in business stems from the relationships we build. The foundation of negotiating is based on the relationship we have with the vendor. In a bad relationship, you probably have very little to no wiggle room. In a good relationship, the sky’s the limit. When it comes down to the vendor making good on an error, if they don’t like you, they won’t care. They can take someone else’s money. They don’t need yours. Coming to the table with the facts and figures will always help your cause, but the ultimate decision comes from the vendor, whether you like it or not. Connecting with them on a positive level is always key, but I feel that being fair is just as important.
A few years back the best advice I ever received was from an old colleague. Her tip was to “be fair.” I asked her what her strategy was heading into negotiations. She didn’t have one. She simply told me to always give your bottom line. I’ve applied this mindset ever since. Not only do the vendors appreciate this justice, but it portrays you and your agency as “honest” – in a not-so-honest industry. Fair is fair, and reaching for anything more than that may get you ahead in certain situations, but it’ll get you in trouble the majority of the time. Nonetheless, no one wants to work with a mooch. Don’t be a mooch. No one wants to forge partnerships with someone who expects the undeserved. The best negotiators know when it’s time to budge on demands, and when it’s time to stick to the bottom line.