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Practicing Negotiation

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins

Negotiation professors Charles Craver and Linda Babcock recommend practicing the art of negotiation at every opportunity. In fact, they suggest creating opportunities to negotiate where seemingly none exist.

Here’s how I put their recommendation into action.

Over the years, I have been invited to a series of potluck dinners by my friend, the restauranteur. My dilemma, of course, was always what to take to a potluck hosted by a renowned cook. No point cooking, right? Instead, I have relied on taking a bottle of Old Raj, a distinctive gin favored by her husband. It is distilled with saffron. The result is a slightly orange-ish color and a different subtle but piquant taste. (Hey, I live in Northern California. You’re lucky I didn’t say oaky with a nose of pear.)

As is too often the case, on this occasion I left the purchase of the Old Raj until the last minute. It’s a little hard to find. Even in San Francisco, it’s only carried by a few stores. My office is downtown, where there are even fewer retail outlets available. In prior years, I had bought it from a discount wine store, but it was too far away from my office to get to before the dinner. So I went to a liquor purveyor downtown. I was aghast at the price: $65!

O.K., I said to myself, no time like the present. I waited to approach the salesman until the last customer had left the cash register. Holding the Old Raj and my credit card in hand, I said,
“I can get this bottle for $55 at the wine store. Can I buy it from you right now for $60?”

He looked at me, paused, and said, “Yes, I think we can give you an in-store discount.” He then rang it up for me with a 10% discount. I did even better than I had asked for!

The end result: I paid more than the wine store’s price, but I didn’t have time to go there. I got what I wanted, when I wanted it, at a reduced price from the stated price. The store got a sale versus no sale.

Win-win in action.

The secret is….ASKING.

We Americans tend to believe the stated price at a retail store is the price. Not necessarily. You can practice your negotiation skills every day by asking retail establishments:

Is this your cash price?
Is this your best price?
Is this your price if I buy it right now?

Try it and let me know how it goes.

                        author

Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

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