After our home, our next major purchase will be a car. I am an introvert and I hate conflicts, so naturally negotiation is stressful for me. But if I don’t speak up, I know I will get the short end of the stick and pay a lot more money for the car. Last time I bought a car, I handled the entire negotiation via email; I only went to the dealership to pick up the car. I am not sure if I can do the same thing this time. I am going to assume the haggling will be harder this time and be prepared. As a result, I compiled a list of tips to help me develop a strategy whenever I need to negotiate.
1. Knowledge is power: Do your research. An introvert’s strength is listening and staying focused; use it. Collect as much information as possible so that, when needed, you can immediately decide what a fair offer is. It is also helpful to carry a printout of all the information that you have collected to support what you think is fair. This serves two purposes:
- It gives you something to focus on when you are overwhelmed.
- If you are tired of saying the same thing over and over again, showing the evidence on paper to the salesman might kick things up a notch.
2. Decide on a budget: Know how much you want to spend on a particular item and stick to it. This should be self-explanatory. Knowing this will let you decide whether it is even worth spending your energy negotiating or if you have to save more cash to make your offer more attractive.
3. Negotiate one thing at a time: A lot of times, the salesman will try to talk you into thinking about the price of the car differently; if you are not prepared it might overwhelm you. For example, when we went shopping for my husband’s car, we had a dollar amount we wanted to pay for the car. But the salesman kept trying to steer us into thinking about the monthly payment vs. the price of the car. He kept increasing the loan period to reduce the monthly payment, which meant he essentially increased the price of the car without making us think about it. If we had not stuck to just negotiating the price, we would have paid a lot more for that car.
4. Know what you want (and don’t): This goes hand in hand with tip No. 3. Write down the exact product you want and any accessories you might like and how much you are willing to pay for those. This will help you avoid confusion when there are too many unnecessary accessories thrown into the mix.
5. Have the script ready: I started following the script strategy after reading it on Ramit Sethi’s site and it has served me well. I have scripts for pretty much everything – negotiating the rate down with the cable company every three months, negotiating to get lower rent and negotiating a telecommuting arrangement with my previous company.
6. Do it all via email (or other social media channels): I like working via email. It lets me put down all my thoughts without someone interrupting me and re-read/edit it as many times as I want before sending it. It also helps me to bring the conversation back to one focused topic if it gets distracting. Personally, it helps me avoid the anxiety I get with face-to-face haggling.
7. Have a list of options you can offer to make the deal better: What are you bringing to the table? Having this list right in front of you will help you steer the conversation to highlight the options you have to make the transaction more attractive to the other party. Can you pay cash? Can you buy right away? Do you have an excellent credit score? Why should they agree to the deal you are offering?
8. Go for the win-win: You are having this conversation only because each of you has something the other person wants. If you go with the mentality to “win” the negotiation, you might probably walk away empty-handed. This might not be the style of negotiation for everyone, but for me it works best when both parties reach a happy medium.
9. Don’t make it personal: Not all negotiation ends with a transaction. Just because you didn’t get the deal you wanted doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or that the other person had something personally against you. It just was not the best deal for both parties. Keep your bottom line – your budget, in mind and be ready to walk away if the deal doesn’t work out. You don’t have to buy something just because you want to be the nicer person.
10. Walk away: Walk away from the deal if it is not what you wanted. Sometimes, walking away is part of the negotiation to show you are not desperate, other times you really have to give up the deal; be prepared to do that.
Negotiation is a difficult skill to master even for experts who deal with people a lot. For introverts, we just have to prepare, play our strengths and plan wisely.
Are you an expert negotiator? What are your strategies?