Project “Buy a New Truck.”
Let me tell you, this project has been going on for months. With the supply chain woes, new vehicles are in short supply, which makes used vehicles in short supply, also. Because I’m a picky used buyer, I have very specific criteria a vehicle must meet before I even click on a picture. So when the day came where I found what I was looking for with the required features, mileage and price, I grabbed my wife and went to look at the target vehicle.
Everything checked out! Because I knew what my trade was worth, the down payment I was going to give and estimated payment to keep within, the financial discussion went fairly quickly. I did say at one point I didn’t NEED a new truck and would be happy to walk away, which helped get some accessories thrown in.
Deal = Done!
While my short negotiation was going on, I overheard the conversation a month/daughter were having at a table near me. They had been at the dealership for five hours, test drove nine cars, and still couldn’t make a decision. The dealer came over and wanted to know if they made a selection. Nope, they actually wanted to see “just one more car, please.” The dealer huffed off. I then heard the daughter ask her mom, “Is that a good price? I don’t know anything about this kind of car, or SUV thing.” I think their five hours were going to turn into eight!
Let’s be honest, buying a car can be fun and a pain in the ass all at the same time. But car buying is an example of a critical skill we all must possess to make it successful; Negotiation. Negotiation techniques can help in many areas of your life, from buying a car, to selling a house, to getting a higher salary or better raise. It’s a life skill, one most of us probably never master.
Though I openly admit I’m not an expert in the field of negotiation, I have learned a few things about it throughout my career and life. I’ve had some helpful mentors along the way. Here are some of my keys to negotiating.
Do Your Research. What is my vehicle trade worth? How much could I get for my house? What am I worth to this company that’s offering me a job? Before entering into a negotiation, research the topic. Understand the numbers and go in with a strong case. This will take time, but it is time well spent.
Make a Concrete First Offer. Seize control of the bargaining table by setting the initial terms of a negotiation. In the case of my truck, when I made the decision to buy, I told the dealer what I wanted for my trade (because I researched what it was worth), the money I would put down, and the interest rate I should expect. The numbers were concrete, not ranges. If I gave a range, they’d naturally go for the lower amount. I set the terms they had to react to. If you’re negotiating for salary and you’re thinking about a range, just give the higher number. The worst they can say is no.
Talk Less & Ask More. I had a mentor that told me to shut up when negotiating, but keep eye contact. Silence speaks volumes and can cause someone to talk more, ultimately making concessions. Also, ask open-ended questions and listen carefully. It took only two questions before I found out the truck I was trading in would probably be sold again within 48 hours given how fast that year and mileage of vehicle moved off their lots. That information came in handy when they wanted to give me less than what I requested, to which I said no.
Walking Away IS an Option. As I told the dealer, I didn’t NEED a new truck. I WANTED one. Thus, I was fine walking away if my requirements weren’t met. Maybe you would be OK walking away from a job offer because they aren’t meeting your requirements. Or you got a low-ball offer selling your home. Be OK stepping away.
Don’t Take Someone’s Behaviors Personally. Have you ever asked for something and the other person gasps, or lets out a huge sigh, rolls their eyes, or does something that makes you cringe? We all have. Don’t let personal issues sidetrack the deal at hand. Sometimes they’re just doing it for show or a tactic to get you to wiggle more. Focus on the outcome!
Remember, Both Sides Should “Win.” If you go in with an “I win you lose” mindset, you may have one successful deal, but probably not two. Both parties should get something they want. I got a truck and the dealer got rid of it. I felt good and will probably go back to them when the need arises in the future. Maybe you’re negotiating for salary and you’re happy with the amount, and the employer feels they got a great employee. Or, you negotiated for a vendor contract and both parties feel the amount agreed to works well given the service offered. Win-win.
If you’re a project professional, you need negotiation skills! You’ll be negotiating for people, resources, money, time, or any host of things. Early in your career negotiating may feel uncomfortable, but through experience and training, you can get better at it.
Take the time to learn negotiation skills. Whether it be a class, YouTube, mentor, or another means, it will pay off both in your career in personal life. Negotiating with a sponsor and for a truck require similar skills, so hone those. Happy Negotiations!!