6 Tips For Negotiating Like A Pro

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I bought my first car about a year ago. I dove into research, made spreadsheets, visited a couple of dealerships to test drive several models. (PS. I took my gal pal best friend with me the first time for her insights, which was great when the salesmen thought we were a couple. Of course, I didn’t let the opportunity slide as we walked away by wrapping my arm around her waist and head nuzzling her. “I’d be your lover if you wanted to,” I smiled.)

I don’t like lingering on financial decisions so about three weeks into shopping, I gave myself a deadline — buy a car within the week or no car at all. I visited a dealership that Friday and there she was, what I had been looking for this entire time. It was time to talk business.

Here are the six tips I used for negotiating the deal I wanted:

#1: Have a number 

This is the hardest part of negotiation especially if you’re afraid of losing something, but it is also your strongest tool. Once I sat down with the salesman I already knew what I wanted to pay per month and at what interest rate. We went through the rigmarole of numbers, of course, sliding a piece of paper scribbling back and forth. Each time I pushed it back I reiterated my set monthly payment. I wasn’t budging.

#2: Be quiet 

 After about 15 minutes of paper sliding and not making ground with me, the salesman brought in his manager, who was just enough to the right of douche to be dashing. The manager appealed to my charm, but I held on firmly to my number. He scribbled more numbers on the same piece of paper and slid it towards me. It was here that I learned salesmen hate silence. While I was busy carrying the one and doing basic arithmetic to see if the numbers added up in my favor, the manager agreed to shave off a little bit more. Apparently my longer than normal blank stare and lack of communication looked like I was about to get up and leave. Genius.

#3: Practice the “look”

It’s likely that I would not be single if I were better at the look (and being quiet, but thanks to wine, that doesn’t happen), but the “look” is somewhere between Donald Draper summing up his next sexual conquest and Ivanka Trump questioning the project manager on Celebrity Apprentice. You could actually just be holding back gas, but no one needs to know that.

#4: Don’t be afraid to walk

“I really can’t go any farther,” said the manager after I kept on pushing. “Anything lower and we’re just losing money.” Sure buddy. At this point, I could have said, “Ok!” and gotten up to leave, but now I had moved from needing a car to WANTING that car. (Which is a bad place to be. The less you need, the more leverage you have.) I was hooked, which I’m sure the manager could smell. At that point, the manager did what I’m sure he’s done many times. “Meet me halfway?” he asked, which meant I would be putting down another $1k. This is stealth negotiating mode, but admittedly, I just wanted to stop shopping for a car, and that to me, is more valuable sometimes than saving a couple of bucks.

“Deal,” the word came out of my mouth faster than I realized; I was quickly in a hand-shake.

#5: Don’t fall in love

Looking back I wondered what would have happened if I had walked away. And I did put down more than I had originally planned. But at this point it was buy a car now or don’t buy one at all…and truth be told, once I make up my mind, it’s hard to undo it. It was like going through 30 profiles on OKCupid and landing on THE ONE. Sure, I could have walked, but my name was already on that car. It was going to be mine.

#6: Believe in yourself

I’ll speak for myself, but as a woman unless I know my topic inside and out I don’t feel comfortable walking up to the table. I knew very little as a first time car buyer and the salesman/car buyer situation has to be the most stereotypical of negotiating situations. That’s where women may lack in this department — confidence. And weakness is easy to prey on.

After I shook hands with the manager, shocking myself I asked aloud “Holy shit, did I just buy a car?” As he raised his brows he responded “First timer? Well, not too bad. You had both of us sweating, here.” (Sure buddy, sure. Catering to my ego is a great tactic.)

So when you’re at the negotiating table (or the dating table, see what I just did there?), know what you want, know your numbers and value and don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t get it.

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