When I was younger, I drove three hours to look at a motorcycle. After seeing the ad for the motorcycle and speaking with John, the owner, I headed out with cash and a ramp, and the full intention of making the buy. During my initial telephone conversation with the owner, he told me he would sell the bike for $7,000, even though his asking price in the ad was $7,400. My plan was to take $7,000 in cash, but offer less depending on the condition of the motorcycle.
I arrived, and to my amazement the bike was in better shape than I had anticipated. I decided to make an offer of $6,700 cash and to take the bike immediately, no questions asked. John declined my offer. We spoke more, and John began to recollect all of the great experiences he had had on the motorcycle, including several trips, the low cost of insurance, and the relative comfort of the bike. I became nervous that John wasn’t truly interested in selling the bike, so made a second offer of $6,900, considering that I had spent $100 on fuel for the trip. John’s response was, “No, I told you my price.”
So I asked him, “Are you ready to sell this motorcycle?”
John responded, “Now that we are here discussing it, I am not so sure.”
I paid him $7000 in cash, and drove away as quickly as I could.
John knew that I would not have driven three hours with less than what we discussed, and whether he truly was waffling on selling the bike or he was just a good negotiator, he ended up getting the price he was asking. Many statements made during negotiations are often misleading or specifically intended to move us toward the other party’s position.
Here are some typical statements used during negotiations, and what they truly mean:
“That is my final price…” unless you can increase your offer to reduce the gap.
“I will have to give that some thought.” Your offer is close, but I think if I wait it out, you will cave in to my demands.
“For anything less than that, I won’t sell it.” I am not ready to sell, and will regret doing so. Please just go away.
“I will have to discuss that with my manager.” I don’t have authority to commit to anything other than what I provided.
“If I give it to you at this price, can we make the deal today?” I am desperate to sell and will likely take the same price tomorrow.
“Sorry, I just can’t accept your offer.” I am confident of my price, of future sales, and won’t be willing to budge any time soon.
The next time you find yourself negotiating, read what may be behind the message in order to determine your next move. Lastly, the most important negotiation tool you can ever have is the ability to walk away. Always prepare a contingency plan and be prepared to walk, and your chances of successful outcomes in your favor will increase immensely.
© Shawn Casemore 2011. All rights reserved.