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What is your approach to negotiating with vendors?

What is your approach to negotiating with vendors?

2 min read



SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When you have a high performer whose performance starts dropping, how do you handle it?

  • I treat them like true partners and make sure we both have acceptable outcomes: 55%
  • I partner on some things but drive a hard bargain on others: 37%
  • I almost always drive a hard bargain but let them win occasionally:  2%
  • I always drive them down as much as possible. They’re replaceable: 5%

A little bit of honey… The majority of you look to partner with your vendors. That can be a very productive approach because the vendor will be more willing to make concessions, find new opportunities for mutual benefit, and put your interests first if they feel you’re taking care of them and considering their interests. If you’re in the “hard bargain” group, consider if that approach is getting you the best outcome. On the face of it you may save a few dollars but in the long term, that vendor won’t go out of their way for your business. All the extra effort they put in will go toward clients who treat them like partners. The next time you’re thinking about driving that bargain to win a few dollars, consider the long-term impacts on what that vendor will or won’t do for you down the road and ask yourself if it’s really worth that short-term savings.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”