You have something someone else wants. Usually it’s money. Sometimes, it’s the work you perform. You want a car, but you don’t want to spend a lot. You have a job, but you feel you deserve a raise. You want to sell your house, but you’ve rejected each offer.
Here are the 5 steps you need to climb to becoming a better negotiator:
1. Figure out what the value of your car is; what your services are worth in the marketplace (ask friends, relatives or colleagues what people like you earn in the private sector); ask a few real estate agents to give you a straight-forward assessment of your home.
a. Once you know the approximate value of these things (also called research), you’re well on your way to understanding how to obtain them for the price you want to pay or receive.
b. Your goal is to maximize the value of your car, home or services.
c. The buyer’s goal is to obtain these things for the least possible amount. The seller’s goal is to sell the item for the most possible. The key is figuring out where each side is willing to come to in order to reach their goal.
2. Armed with that research, you ask your boss for a few minutes of his time to discuss your progress with a project you’re working on. Explain how much you’ve done recently to improve the bottom line for your company. Show how your efforts have increased productivity while keeping down costs. Put your best foot forward. If you’ve had some pitfalls while at work, or have not interacted well with some co-workers, don’t hide that fact. Your boss will undoubtedly know. Instead, turn it around.
“You know, I had some difficulty with Jim and Sam while running this project, but I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I’m proud to say I’m a better person for it. ” Be humble, but also be forceful. “With all the effort I’m putting into this project, and all the extra hours I’m needed here at the office, it would be great if you could see your way to increase my salary by ‘x’ dollars per week. I’ve saved the company a truckload of money…and I’d like you to know that I’m eager to take on more responsibility…I’m here for you, and I know you support the effort we’re making for the company. Any extra income would be a great incentive to work even harder. ”
Don’t put him on the spot. Instead suggest, “I know you didn’t expect this, so I don’t expect an answer right away. But if you could let me know your answer by the end of the week, that would be great. ” Even if you don’t get your raise that week, you’ve let your boss know that you’re a team player, and you’re making the company money by your efforts.
3. “I’ll give you $500,000 for your house, ” said the prospective buyer.
“My asking price is $600,000, ” answered the homeowner. “But the house needs renovations, the basement leaks, the roof is damaged, the house hasn’t been painted in 20 years, the hot water heater looks as if it’s on its’ last legs…” says the potential buyer.
“Ah, but what house doesn’t have its’ faults? Look at the neighborhood. Property values have doubled lately. So what’s a little touch-up here and there. You know the blemishes in the house. You know it’s a great location, the school district is incredible, and this property is huge. You also know that in a few years this property will be worth at least $200,000 more than you’re going to pay. It’s a great steal at $600,000, ” replied Mr. Take-it-or-leave it.
a. Well, here’s the dilemma: Do you increase your offer?
You know you want the house, otherwise you wouldn’t have offered $500,000. But you’re also trying to save money, because you know that you’ll have to do a lot of major work to the house even before you move in. My suggestion: Try again to point out the “blemishes” and the costs associated with all of the renovations and repairs needed. Go the extra mile, and get actual estimates of what it would cost to get those repairs done. Then present the costs to Mr. Stuck-in-a-hole mentality, and make sure you add in some extra to cover your time and effort to get those repairs done. By the end, your number will probably come close to the $600,000 the buyer wanted to begin with.
b. If he’s still not willing to budge, you have to determine if it’s financially worth the extra money to be in that house, in that neighborhood. If not, move on. If yes, good luck, and before you plunk down your hard earned money, go rent the movie “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long. It’s a comedy about a young couple that buys a clunker of a house in the suburbs and spends endless amounts of money fixing it up.
4. When negotiating, do not yell and scream. Instead, remain polite, firm and forceful. Do not back down on your principles, but acknowledge when a weakness has been exposed. Use it to your advantage. “Sure, it’s a weak point, but just look at our strong points…” If your requests are rejected, ask them to reconsider. Explain why your position is a better position than theirs.
5. Meanwhile, at the car dealer, Mr. Buy-it-for-a-bargain is looking at that brand-new SUV that just came on the market. He really likes the car. The sticker price is $20,000. “I’ll give you $15,000, ” says Mr. Buy-it for-a-bargain.
“That’s below my cost, ” replies Mr. Sleazy Dealmaker. “I’ll lose money. How about $18,500…my best deal…my manager will kill me for offering this fully loaded car at this price, ” says Mr. Dealmaker.
a. What do you do? Get up and walk out? Hope the salesman will stop you in your tracks and plead for you to return, giving you the car below his cost? Unlikely in today’s market.
b. Counter-offer. Tell him you can get a better deal across town. To really put the screws to him, tell him the exact number you were quoted across town, and if he says no, then you can go buy your car across town. At least you’ve given him the opportunity to match his competitor’s price. (You better make sure that you actually got a number, and are not simply trying to make up a number to use for negotiating. Lying won’t work well during negotiation. Facts are always much, much better. )
The line in the sand
In every negotiation there is an endpoint at which you have determined not to step over, regardless of what’s being offered. “I’m not paying more than $17,000 for that car. ” “I’m not paying more than $500,000 for that house. ” “I’m not going to continue working here unless I get at least a salary increase of ‘x’ dollars per week. ”
That line in the sand is your breakpoint. If you reach that point, you must be able to walk away and evaluate your other options. If you don’t walk away, you lose credibility (you lose face) and both sides know it. But again, it all boils down to what are you willing to accept, and do you have acceptable alternatives that can carry you through the day? Only you can answer that question.
I hope I’ve been able to impart some useful information about negotiating and by doing so, improve your chances for a better deal.
Attorney Oginski has been in practice for 17 years as a trial lawyer practicing exclusively in the State of New York. Having his own law firm, he is able to provide the utmost in personalized, individualized attention to each and every client. In our office, a client is not a file number. Client's are always treated with the respect they deserve and expect from a professional. Mr. Oginski is always aware of every aspect of a client's case from start to finish.
Gerry represents injured people in injury cases and medical malpractice matters in Brooklyn, Queens, New York City, the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. You can reach him at http://www.oginski-law.com , or 516-487-8207. All inquiries are free and totally confidential.