You’re a tourist. You’re exploring the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, looking for good deals in the local shops. Suddenly you come across this vase. Gorgeous! Your wife would love it!
(I realize the vase in the photo is butt-ugly. Work with me, here.)
Okay, so you want the vase. You’re looking to spend $100, maybe a little more. But the vase is marked at $275. What do you do?
It’s haggle time.
This actually happened to me on Monday afternoon, more or less. I was in a training class on how to negotiate, and this was one of the exercises. I was paired up with another guy from the class. One of us was assigned to be the buyer (the tourist), the other to be the seller. We were each given a sheet explaining our character, our background, our goals, etc. Then they put us on the clock to negotiate a deal.
One person wants to pay $100, the other person wants to get $275 (or as close as he can manage). As you’d expect, the deals wound up in the $140 to $180 range, for the most part. Nothing too exciting so far.
But check this out: after the exercise, our teacher told us the stories of the best and worst actual deals she’d ever seen from her students in past classes.
Before I go on, try and imagine the best and worst deals you could negotiate (from a real person) for this vase. Just take a second and think about it.
The all-time best deal: two vases, for free, shipping included.
How is that even possible?
In this case, the buyer told the seller she had a lot of friends back home who would love to buy this kind of vase, but wouldn’t be willing to travel to Brazil. She suggested a business partnership where she would set up a website and promote the shop at home, and send him lots of customers in the future. The free vases were just to get the ball rolling.
The all-time worst deal: $475. In other words, $200 more than the asking price.
Okay, how is that possible?
Simple. The seller convinced the buyer that he had misread his information sheet, that the vase actually cost $1275. He negotiated downward from there.
What do these two cases have in common? Shameless audacity. A boundless conception of what’s possible. And the will to make it happen.
That, and a butt-ugly vase.
Do you ever haggle over prices? What about other things: chores, assignments, free time, etc.? Do you have a strategy?