Busting the myth of negotiation: high-growth brands vs the big retailers


Every entrepreneur knows that initial meetings with the large retailers are some of the most nerve-wracking encounters you can undertake when you are a high-growth, innovative  brand. Right? Well, not necessarily.

Recently, Angelique Hathaway from New Beginnings spoke to the YF Community about the power of good negotiation and dispelling the myth that it is an unfairly weighted process towards the retailer.

Angelique shared how learning collaborative behaviours can help you to build relationships, and achieve value for both sides, all while keeping firm control.

Here are 7 top tips from this jam-packed session:

7 top tips to prepare for a successful negotiation

1. Remember your power

  • When you begin to negotiate with a retailer, it is extremely common to think they hold all the power. Remind yourself; the meeting has been set up, which means that the retailer is already interested in your brand. They want you, now turn up prepared, and sell your brand. This is your time to shine. 

2. Keep a log

  • It is important to ensure that you retain every interaction that has been had with the retailer. You need to be crystal clear about what has been discussed and what your relationship has been up to this point. That way you can enter the negotiation with a clear head and plan what new information you want to share. The more organised you can be, the stronger you will feel.

3. Research, research, research

  • Make sure you really understand the buyer you are meeting. There is so much information available, and the more clued up you can get, the better. Get to know their interests, their career trajectory, see where you might align and offer those mutual points up within the meeting.

4. Plan your negotiation

  • Each retailer has different goals and objectives. Do your best to explore what the retailer is looking for before you enter the negotiation meeting. That way you can create a narrative that consistently presents how your brand can answer their needs.

5. Innovative brands are in demand

  • Do not undermine your worth. It is easy to compare yourself to the bigger, blue-chip brands and feel insignificant as a consequence. Please remind yourself that you have a fair stake in the market. Retailers have changed the way they are working, they are keen to find smaller brands with interesting and innovative stories and products. That is you. Change your mindset, the retailers want you. 

6. Never bargain first

  • A negotiation is a conversation. Think about building a well-considered collaboration first. Focus on building a long-term partner with the retailer rather than a hard bargain. You do not achieve that by beating someone down. Do your best to communicate in a team-focused, open way. The goal should be finding a sweet spot for both parties rather than winning a battle against the retailer.

7. Play cool

  • Rather than being on the receiving end of the retailer’s availability, be bold and brave enough to show how in demand you are too. Be the brand that is confident enough to offer specific times for negotiations rather than at their mercy. And when in dialogue with them, find the confidence to ask the retailer what they are looking for, do your best to access all the tools you need to give yourself the best chance of building an equal partnership.

You can go far just by taking these tips on board, but if you would like more insights on the best ways to work with retailers, the YF Community hosts a range of retail events that can help you to achieve this.

You can find an example of these here and learn more about the YF Community here. 

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