When you're negotiating and someone calls you a name, does it throw you off your 'mental center of gravity,' anger you, cause you to strike, or want to strike back? To a degree, it probably depends on the name your opponent calls you. Nevertheless, be it a good name or a bad one, you should maintain the strategies and tactics that you've identified as being best suited to assist you in reaching your final goals.

Recently, I attended a computer show. Those of you that know me know that I love computer shows. They're great places to uncover insight into the latest computer technology. They're even greater settings in which to negotiate. For me, being at computer shows is almost like being in techno/negotiation heaven.

As I walked around the show, I talked to different vendors; I was getting a lesson on the latest state-of-the-art computer gadgets and gizmos. While doing so, I also eavesdropped on several conversations. I quickly observed the negotiation styles and techniques of the various vendors and in some cases, the lowered price at which they were selling their items; I was doing so to gain insight into the different price points and how tough any negotiation session became. In most of the conversations I overheard, would-be purchasers were really negotiating. Some were negotiating mildly, while others were negotiating 'nose to nose (literally, in your face)'. As I observed the negotiation efforts, I timed them to last approximately 2 to 4 minutes.

Outside of the knowledge gained from attending the show, I was also on the look-out for one particular item; I thought if I could find it at a good price, I might just buy two of them.

Since price points vary widely from vendor to vendor, I always walk the show's floor before making purchases. (In prior lessons, I've talked about ways to gather information on the 'mindset and style' of negotiators. This is one way I do just that, at computer shows.) After completing my walk around the show's floor, I noticed two vendors carried the item I was seeking. The vendor's price points, for the item, were within $10 of each other.

I approached the closest vendor. That happened to be the vendor that sold the item at the higher price. I asked how business was, he replied, 'slow.' I commented on the fact that I noticed not as many people in attendance, compared to prior shows. He acknowledged that fact as accounting for his 'slow' sales. I then proceeded to tell him about the item I wanted to purchase. I also told him, I had noticed the same item being sold by another vendor, at a lower price. I let him know that since the other vendor was at the other end of the show's floor, I'd buy the item from him, if he'd match the other vendor's price. He went 'off' on me! He said to me, in a very loud voice, 'you're cheap.' Then he asked me not to talk to him anymore. After that, he asked me to leave his area. I looked at him and said with genuine empathy, I'm sorry you're having such a lousy day.

Undaunted by his outburst, I asked, with an inquisitive smile on my face, does that mean you won't sell the item to me, at the other vendor's price? He laughed very loudly and very long. He mentioned something about me having brass on my body. He then said, sure I'll match the other vendor's price. With that, I said, I'll take two ... and everything was right with the world.

Negotiation Lessons:

The Negotiation Lessons Are ...

  • Before negotiating, always try to build rapport (I talked to a lot of the vendors as I was walking around, especially the two from which I had earmarked to possibly make a purchase)
  • Display empathy to your opponent (This will also enhance your efforts to build rapport)
  • Never let your opponent anger you to the point that you lose sight of your goal (Anger causes most people to function less efficiently)
  • Prior to negotiating, gather information on your opponent (I walked the show's floor, talking with the different vendors, before I started to negotiate)
  • Always have a backup plan to get what you want, if you can't get it from one source (I was prepared to walk the length of the show to purchase the item from the other vendor.)

Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator



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