After his ‘Negotiating with Ambition’ workshop Mike asked me for some video examples of good negotiating skills – a tricky question! Training videos are invariably very hackneyed affairs, or hopelessly dated, and sometimes both. TV programmes which you might expect to offer some good examples are generally hopeless; Dragons Den tends to produce examples of over-deferent entrepreneurs conceding more equity than they mean to – good television perhaps, but not the sort of skills and behaviours that we can learn from. No surprise perhaps, Dragons Den is after all a television programme for entertainment, not a demonstration of negotiation skills.
And yet I did recently come across a television programme that does have something to offer, and so suggested to Mike that he takes at look at Salvage Hunters on the Quest channel.
Drew Pritchard consistently gets a number of important things right when he visits antique dealers and reclamation yards in search of items of architectural significance to lightly spruce up for his international customer base.
- Look out for some of the ways that Drew gets it right :He is naturally personable, and creates easy rapport with the person he wants to do business with. His natural rapport stretches to charm, which means he is able to be direct (about item quality for example, and price) and keep things moving.
- He knows his market and knows his numbers; has he ever paid more than he meant to for something? Very rarely I think. Watch him walk away from outstanding items that he clearly covets, because he knows that the best price he can get leaves him no profit margin. He moves on.
- He’s direct. More often than not Drew is seen bargaining over price – there’s only one variable at play (price) and so it’s not a negotiation as such. Nevertheless, his manner in being direct in saying what price he wants (easy when you know your parameters) is a great example of getting down to it without any hint of awkwardness. He remains largely uninfluenced by the asking price – why should it have any bearing on what he wants to pay? “It’s £900”. . . “I want to pay you £550”
- He’s open. Drew shares enough of his position to come across as open about what he’s interested in and how much he’ll pay. Yet he’s rarely seen justifying his price, rightly recognising that it’s a pointless tactic that rarely changes anything, and chews up time. Either there is a deal to be done or there isn’t, and it only clutters the process when the parties justify their reasons. Everyone’s entitled to say ‘no’.
- He’s enthusiastic. He’ll readily applaud a remarkable item, and give accolades about e.g. the exceptional condition of a rare item. This behaviour might be discouraged – it would seem to run the risk of inflating the price, or perhaps weakening his position by showing how badly he wants the item. By contrast what seems to happen is that the joint love-in over the item fuels the rapport between like-minded enthusiasts, and, because it is what it is, Drew knows what he’ll pay for it, and so there is actually no risk of the purchase price inflating.
- He’s savvy. He knows it makes good sense to compliment the trader on the quality of their collection, or the well-ordered layout of their stock. Where he can, Drew will be agreeably complimentary.
- He keeps the door open. Accepting that this might partly be down to the work in the tv production team’s editing room, Drew always seems to leave with both him and his prospect wanting to do business together again. Do we always achieve the same with our customers? Drew achieves this partly through his charming and empathetic nature, but also through being good to do business with, that is, business-like-able. He’ll even tell a customer that their item is worth more than they’ve asked for, and shake on a higher price.
It is instructive to see examples of people getting it right, and there’s plenty to draw from Drew. @RolandMillward puts the £000s he saved for the NHS down to the effectiveness of Drew’s tactics. But that’s another story.
Image courtesy of Chaiwat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net