Improving Your Negotiating Skills to Grow Your Fashion Business- Part 3

negotiating- credibility

Guest post by Mary Powell, Marketing and Sales Executive 

The art of negotiating involves many elements.  In addition to leverage and information gathering, which we discussed in the two previous articles, your credibility plays a big role in your ability to effectively negotiate.

Your ability to make others believe that you mean what you say will have a huge impact on your success in negotiating.

First you have to establish your own credibility. In order to be believed, you have to prove yourself to be honest.  You need to establish your credibility right from the start of your meeting. Be honest, straightforward, and willing to compromise.  It also helps to be really specific with your information.  The more precise you are, the more believable you will be.

While honesty is always the best policy, sometimes it can be to your benefit to say something like “I can’t go any higher” when you’re trying to negotiate on a point, like say, a price.

But remember that in order to be successful with this approach, you have to  limit this kind of comment to only your most critical issue.  If you make hard and fast comments about every issue, you will become a victim of “The boy who cried wolf” syndrome.

A savvy negotiator knows that you must be flexible on many issues to be able to hold fast on one.

Plan ahead by knowing all the issues involved and choose one or two as your most critical.  Be willing to be flexible on the others.  For example, you might have to be flexible on pricing and quantities if your delivery date cannot be moved.

Spotting a bluff from your counterpart can be difficult.  You have to judge their honesty just as they are trying to determine yours.

We all have ways of assessing the credibility of others. Some of us automatically suspect any sentence that begins with a phrase such as “To be perfectly candid” or “In all honesty.”

Others use nonverbal clues such as shifty eyes, fidgeting, sweating, or hands over the mouth when speaking.  Whatever clues you use, use them in negotiations as well. When you can’t be sure, the best you can do is to make an educated guess.

After leverage and information, credibility is the third basic skill needed for good negotiating skills.

Too often we make the assumption that others will consider us as honest as we know we are.  The smarter approach is to understand that the other side is just as concerned with whether you are bluffing as you are with whether he or she is.

My next article, the last in this series, will address judgment-the ability to strike a balance between holding fast for what you want, and compromising.


StartUp FASHION is an online community where independent designers and emerging brands are coming together, helping one another, forming friendships, collaborating, letting off steam, sharing victories, and belonging to a network of people who get it; who are doing it too. We’re a place to access and discover the tools and information you need to build your fashion business. We help you define your path and give you the guidance, encouragement, and resources to follow that path.