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February 26, 2019

Negotiating Tip 84: The Power Of Time

Impatience and the rush to agreement finds us at a disadvantage and often leaving money behind.  Let me remind you of a principle that directly relates to timing. The more time someone invests in a negotiation, the more likely they'll make a concession.  We talked about this in a prior tip.

Impatience: A Killer Flaw

When negotiating for ourselves and directly with our opponent, we'd be wise to adopt a more patient pace.  As the above principle indicates, if we can get our opponent to buy in, invest in and put effort toward a settlement we can typically gain concessions and arrive at a 'better deal' or the 'best deal'.  Here are a couple of circumstances where this principle of getting our opponent to 'invest time' can be better exemplified.

Opportunity #1: Purchasing a car

Some experts tell us to never buy a car on the first visit.  Two reasons:  

First, we protect ourselves from getting carried away and making an impulse, "gotta have it", decision.  If our pre-visit strategy is that we'll NOT make a decision at our first encounter, we'll avoid making a snap decision at terms we'll later regret. 

Second, our entire attitude and demeanor changes during the first visit.  Instead of racing to 'make a deal', we know that no matter what the incentive, we're not going to decide during this initial meeting.  By default our actions, words and techniques find us slowing the process and asking lots more questions.  We investigate and suggest more alternatives.  If our opponent, this time a car salesperson, thinks a deal can be struck here and now, they'll likely give more helpful information.  

They don't know that a deal isn't possible immediately.  They're more apt to suggest ways that it might work right now.  Just by asking more, learning more and pacing responses we gain a slight advantage.  Upon leaving, one simply drops the 'come back' line, "Let me mull over what you're proposing.  Perhaps it could work, but I can't see how right now."   You haven't said "No" and the salesperson is still encouraged that a deal is in the offing.

During the gap between the first and second visit, the salesperson will have a range of unconfirmed thoughts.  "Are they looking at another car?"  "Are they going to another dealer?"   "This is a tough negotiator!"   "I hope we can do business when they return."   All these will provide an edge when you do come back.  You might even plant a seed that shares that you're looking for a better deal. Suggesting that the salesperson research something, address a current concern or 'rework the numbers' before you return sends all the right messages.

Opportunity #2   Protecting Your Price, Fee or Commission

Everyone wants to close the deal, make the sale and secure the business at the earliest opportunity.  That's understandable but rarely provides a best deal possible opportunity.

You're talking to a homeowner about listing their house.  You're getting into critical territory regarding list price and commission.  Take more time to get this done. Taking a break to make a call, go get some additional resources or check with your manager or colleague can slow the pace and change the negotiating dynamics. 

Too many agents think that if they don't do it all RIGHT NOW that they'll be vulnerable to a competitor who will sneak in during the break.  While that can be a possibility, proper positioning can provide protection.  Coming back in the morning, tomorrow evening or in a few hours can demonstrate a real point of difference, can cause the homeowner to realize this agent is no pushover and can positively impact the negotiations when they resume.

Agent after the agent has rushed to judgment, jumped to an agreement too fast and wondered, "What did I just do?" or "How did I let this happen?"  Even if later on you do agree to the price and commission originally mentioned, the homeowner will feel that they got the best terms (deal) possible.

So what's the key to using the Power of Time more frequently or effectively?   Simple - establish that slowdown, two visit strategy before the negotiations begin. Stay strong.  Keep to your strategy.  The temptation to 'get the deal done now' will be powerful.  It will feel strange, even uncomfortable the first time it's used.   Be prepared to ask more questions, get more information and find out more about their circumstances and priorities.   Keep Negotiating!

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