Negotiate knowing what you SHOULD be paying

Gem , What's Happening in Our Profession Dec 29, 2017 1 Comment


In a Perfect World

Imagine the negotiating edge you would have if you knew—and could demonstrate—what you SHOULD be paying for the products you buy, especially when suppliers come to you with sad tales about price increases they just can’t hold off any longer because of global commodity price rises.

This is not wishful thinking.

That negotiating advantage is available to you using a modeling tool. It calculates the real effect of fluctuating market conditions on your suppliers’ selling prices, and then displays the results on an easy-to-read graph. And the whole process can take less than 5 minutes!

You only need an educated guess to get started. Let’s use electrical cable as an example. The main commodities are copper and PVC (a typical insulation material). Let’s say your current price is $4.50 per yard. We ‘guesstimate’ that copper is 30% of the selling price, PVC is 20%. The model will allocate the rest to the supplier’s ‘profit and overhead’.

The supplier explains his cost for copper is up 80% over last year. That’s true enough. He also tells you, because he values your business so much, he’s pushing up the price by only 40%, to $6.30.

Not good news, but seems fair because copper is certainly a major cost driver.

Let’s put it to the test!

A Simple Modeling Approach (2 steps)

First you choose the start date for the graph (say, one year ago). Then you enter your percentage estimates. Use an Excel graphing wizard to tool to crank out a graph (similar to below) that shows what impact cost changes to both copper and PVC should have on today’s electrical cable selling price.

Reading the Graph

Numbers at the top of the columns, represent what you should pay. The first month is set at 100 (and corresponds to the $4.50 price). The last column (12 months later) is calculated to be 121.8, which means a 21.8% increase ($5.48 not $6.30) would be fair.

Numbers inside the columns show changes to individual component that make up the selling price. The light blue section models the effect of the rising copper. Yellow models changes to PVC costs. Both are easy to change (or add to), if your supplier offers different data to ‘improve’ on the model.

The dark blue represents an estimate of your supplier’s Profit plus Overhead, which, of course, are also important components of his selling price.

Model Softly; Carry a Big Stick

This is important – Profit plus Overhead should not need ‘improving’ because the model holds them constant over time, (in dollar terms). This ensures fairness, since your suppliers will always earn the same number of dollars… and not a penny more.

One of the biggest advantages to modeling is that it prevents suppliers from ‘lumping it all together’and parlaying raw material cost increases into profit increases.

Seeing is Believing

Most people find it hard to believe that they can actually build something useful in a few minutes…..  can’t be that easy!

Judge for yourself. If you do not want to build your own models using Excel, you are invited to take out a free trial membership in Propurchaser to check out the tool there. After you sign up, click Selling Price Models on the left side of your home-page (inside the Toolbox) and follow the instructions.

If you found this article interesting, we think you’ll find the Propurchaser website even more so… Judge for yourself. Click the link below for a free trial membership.



Established in 1999, has become a trusted information source, known for its timely & accurate marketplace reporting. We work closely with leading associations & businesses, such as the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), Purchasing b2b Magazine, and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters network. We also have the distinction of being chosen to partner with the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (PMAC).

Our members include Purchasing and business professionals from a wide variety of leading enterprises throughout the United States and Canada – Home Depot, Snap-on Tools, Cargill, HSBC Bank, Pfizer, Jacuzzi, Scott Paper, Medbuy, and Famous Players Theatres, to name a few.

For more information, visit, email, or phone 416-642-1438 to talk to our staff.

Rod Sherkin

Rod is a former senior executive, responsible for Purchasing, for both Pillsbury and Ball Packaging back in the 80’s and 90’s. Since then, he has continued to work in the Purchasing field as both a consultant and founder of the website

One Comments

  1. Very interesting your model and apparently easy to develop in excel. Price negotiation is a common issue also between scrap metal collectors. In our case we are seller (to scrap yards) not purchased, but the logic is the same.
    Thank you for sharing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *