The Art & Science of Successful Negotiations
Recently after a successful and well crafted negotiation I was complimented with the question “Where did you learn to negotiate?” Until that time I had never really put much thought into the source of my skill. During the conversation that unfolded I discovered that my proficiency in negotiations was not from any one source. What I know about the art and science of negotiating was derived through life experiences where I was permitted to watch others engage in negotiations, extensively reading a variety of publications authored by masters of debate and a multitude of opportunities to engage in negotiations both for myself and my clients.
Don’t Be Shy – My First Time
I keep a 1986 SAAB at my home. I have not driven the car in almost 2 years and I am often asked by friends why I don’t get rid of it. My answer: it is a reminder of my first experience with negotiation. I was in need of a new car after a tree jumped in front of my Jeep during college. My father and I spotted a silver Saab at the dealership. The salesman started off the conversation with “I had someone offer me $3,500 for it last week and I turned them down.” Dad smiled pleasantly and without pause responded: “Well I would love to get this car for my son, would you take $2,500?” I almost fell out of my chair. When I asked my dad why he would offer $2,500 for a car after the salesman clearly stated that he already turned down a bid for $3,500 my dad responded wisely “that was last week and that was someone else, he had not turned me down yet.” You can’t get what you don’t pursue. Don’t be afraid to ask. Find out what it is worth to you, determine the market value and pursue a reasonable goal. By the way, I drove that car off the lot that day for $3,000.
Some will argue that the key to negotiating is to hide the fact that you are interested. You can spot this buyer any given Sunday walking around the showroom floor of your local car dealership trying his best to look disinterested. However, if you intend to buy at some point you will have to make an offer and show the salesperson that you ARE interested. So I ask, why hide it? When buying homes you are making an offer to purchase what is likely the seller’s greatest single possession. In many cases there are emotional ties to the property, perhaps memories of kids growing up or the pride of sweat poured into weekend home improvement projects. When you say that you are disinterested in the home you will certainly bring the seller’s emotion into play in a negative way. From that point forward the seller will consciously or unconsciously spend his energy negotiating with you to prove that you ARE interested instead working out agreeable terms. I am certainly not saying that you need to show all your cards and lead the seller to believe that you want the home at any price; however, you will get the best results by being honest and explaining that you are fond of the home and are serious about the purchase if together you can work out terms that meet your needs.
Everyone Needs to Win
In my earliest opportunities to negotiate I measured my success by what I took away from “my opponent.” It was not until I learned to see the transaction through both the buyer’s and seller’s eyes that I fell in love with the art and found much success in negotiations to follow. My measure of success is now gauged by my ability to successfully achieve my client’s goals while still allowing the opposing party to achieve some of their goals. The first step was to uncover and understand the motivating factors and priorities that will determine the actions and reactions of each party involved. Once established the negotiation is not unlike a game of chess where you can begin to predict the opponent’s next move and in turn offer the most effective counter move. Until you ascertain the other party’s wants and needs you cannot begin to achieve your wants and needs. In a negotiation, look at yourself as a problem solver. Your goal is to bring together what may appear to be two opposing ends through common interests that exist in any successful negotiation.
Bringing it all Together
If you want anything in life you need to go after it with both barrels. Success is not achieved through half hearted attempts that allow fate to determine the outcome. Establish what is important to you, jump in with both feet and never be afraid to ask for what you want. When you approach any transaction be honest with yourself and be honest with the opposing party. When you are honest people generally want to help you achieve your goals even if they have to give a little on their end. Work hard to help others get what they want. Invest some time and energy in understanding the opponent’s wants and needs so that you can assist in that end when it is appropriate to do so. Helping others is often the best way to help ourselves.
Contact us for more information about Uptown Charlotte Real Estate
T. J. Larsen is president of My Townhome Realty—a professional real estate brokerage firm that specializes in condominiums and townhome real estate. If you need assistance with buying or selling real estate, call them at 704-377-4567.