Specialist negotiation skills for fashion and beauty
Anyone who has worked in the heady world of fashion and beauty will tell you it really is like no other. It has an energy, a hype, a (frequently crazy!) vibe all of its own. I’ve enjoyed working in its midst for over 25 years now and can confirm that its idiosyncrasies even extend to the nuances of negotiation.
While the basic principles of successful negotiation such as listening and preparation hold true - whether you work with high street or haute couture, you will also need some very specialist negotiation skills for fashion and beauty.
Negotiation skills complexity
Negotiations in fashion and beauty have a tendency towards the complex. They are rarely just about price. Often, they will involve the trading of multiple variables. Think minimum order quantity (MOQ), delivery time, payment terms, quality, customer support…I could go on.
With negotiations this complex, detailed preparation is essential. Planning tools can assist with multiple scenario planning. Creativity is key. Expect to be negotiating a range of different, yet inter-related features and embrace the wealth of opportunities this presents.
The value of specialist relationships
Building relationships should always play a part in negotiating and this is particularly true in the beauty and fashion industry. Successful partnerships between suppliers and brands can become firmly intertwined and enduring for decades.
Fashion and beauty is very much a people industry. Understanding the person across the table is a key factor of effective preparation. Understanding the behaviours that drive trust, credibility and communicate authenticity is critical for the successful negotiator.
The power of questioning
When multiple variables are on the negotiating table, understanding the reasons behind the positions of each can help to unlock progress. Perhaps you’re facing a too high MOQ. Ask the right questions to discover why it seems fixed at that level. Encouraging your counterpart to open-up about the issues further up the supply chain could provide you with additional opportunities for negotiation.
Using effective questioning can encourage collaborative problem solving. Working on issues together builds a trusted relationship and helps achieve value for both parties. A true win-win.
I’ve been privileged to work with luxury brands in the fashion and beauty industry throughout my career and am passionate about helping others succeed in what can be a challenging arena. It’s really just a question of knowing the context you are working in – and equipping yourself with the right specialist skills and behaviours.
If you’d like to discuss more on how to succeed at collaborative negotiations in beauty and fashion, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org