Strange ReTales: We’re Sending Someone In To Negotiate


I love making a deal. Boy do I ever. Negotiating is fun.

Or at least it can be. I recognize that not everybody enjoys it. Truthfully, negotiating a deal is only fun if both sides are having a good time with it.

Also, regardless of what you’ve read in Old School salesmanship books deal making works best if everybody gets something they want.  Win/win, and all that.

It’s not a zero-sum game, wherein for someone to win someone else has to lose. Although my favorite aphorism states (with tongue in cheek) “You know it was a good deal when both parties feel like they got screwed.”

I’d say that there are two main requirements to being able to negotiate and do well. The first is to approach the deal like you don’t really need the deal, whether you’re selling or buying, and maintain your power to walk away.

The best example of that I ever saw was the father of a girl I dated long ago. He was a big shot in the finance ministry of the Provincial government; budgets and resource royalty contracts worth billions crossed his desk.

Naturally, when he went to buy a car anyone at the dealership who spoke to him was woefully out of their league.

Yet, for all that his technique was simple: he just kept saying “No” until they dropped their price to what he wanted.

The second requirement is to listen, actually listen to what the other party is saying, and find out what they really want, rather than what they’re telling you they want.

They often aren’t the same thing at all.

One day I picked up the phone at my store. The voice on the other end said “I want a 32-inch Sony V-series. I want your best price, and if I don’t get it I’m hanging up.”

So I hung up on him.

Ten seconds later the phone rang again, so I picked it up.

It was the same guy. “You hung up on me!” he accused.

“Okay,” I replied “so you admit that you don’t care ONLY about price?”

We got to talking and really, he was tired of being jerked around by greasy salesmen, and just wanted someone to look after him.

He bought the TV, at a reasonable discount, plus the extended warranty, and I got some referral business out of it down the road.

All because I hung up on a customer.