How to negotiate a purchase

Checklist

  1. 1 Decide how much you want the deal; identify how much it is worth to you and what alternatives you have.
  2. 2 Find out as much as possible about the supplier's position: how much they need your order and what their priorities are.
  3. 3 Work out what you could offer, if necessary, that the supplier would value - a large order or prompt payment, for example.
  4. 4 Set your objectives; decide what your targets are for price and other terms, what your priorities are and what would be acceptable.
  5. 5 If possible, choose the right time for the negotiation: when you will be under no pressure to reach a deal but the supplier will.
  6. 6 Before the negotiation begins, prepare yourself to be firm but fair, aiming for a deal that will suit you but also keep the supplier happy.
  7. 7 Restate the specification of what you require and agree with the supplier the key points to be negotiated.
  8. 8 From the outset, try to get the supplier to state a starting price which you can negotiate downwards.
  9. 9 Do not reveal your negotiating position; focus on asking questions and sounding positive without giving information away.
  10. 10 Undermine the supplier's price: focus on weaknesses in what the supplier is offering and ask for trade or bulk discounts.
  11. 11 Ask for other concessions, such as better payment terms; make sure that any concession you are offered is of genuine value to you.
  12. 12 Confirm every concession the supplier makes.
  13. 13 Only make concessions yourself in exchange for something you value.
  14. 14 Be alert to any tactics the supplier uses, such as trying to create a sense of urgency; be prepared to postpone a decision if you need time to think.
  15. 15 Follow up with a written agreement.

Cardinal rules

Do:

  • find out what the supplier wants
  • set clear objectives before negotiating
  • ask for discounts and other concessions
  • focus on what concessions are worth to you
  • get the agreement in writing

Don't:

  • accept the initial offer
  • reveal your negotiating position
  • make concessions without getting something in return
  • let yourself be pressured into agreement