7 Killer Bartering and Negotiation Strategies
Dan F. Sullivan 02.18.16
Bartering. It’s a survival skill that you absolutely must master post-collapse. Whether the dollar will still be worth something or not, you’ll need to bring your best self if you want to get the best deals to keep your family safe, well fed, and healthy.
There’s only one problem, though: most of us are clueless how to do it. Nobody taught it to us! Now, I’m not by any means a trained negotiator, but I do run my own small business. One thing I learned is if you want something, sometimes you just need to ask.
There is some good news, though. All of these strategies are easy. All they require is practice and using your own head to better read and understand the person you’re dealing with. Use them when you’re selling your iPhone, use them when you’re going to the flea market, use them when your co-worker asks you to help him move.
#1. Ask for More Than What It’s Worth…
…and always expect the other guy to ask for a lot less, of course. If you’re the one in need of something, your first offer should always be substantially below what it’s worth. Even if this might upset some people, it will set the tone for you getting a good deal at the end.
Forget fairness. The value of something is dictated by how bad the other person wants it. Besides, who knows what kind of resources you may or may not have to barter with? I can still remember the picture of a migrant from the Middle East, “selling” pens with one hand while and holding his young daughter with the other. Are you able to sell pens or barter with them in exchange for food?
The “price” most people ask is way below what the others are willing to pay. It’s okay to be a little greedy, and you’ll go back home with more than you hoped for. If it’s the other guy who’s asking, always assume he wants way more than it’s worth (so start off with a really low counteroffer).
Let’s get one thing straight: bluffing is not lying! It’s just a way of “threatening” your opponent with something that you may or may not do. For example, you can tell them that:
- you have plenty of other customers who want what they want
- you have a limited stock (it has to be true, of course)
- you’re going to increase the “price” soon
- you won’t be in town long, you’re leaving the following day
- you consider keeping that particular item for yourself
#3. Take Your Time
This works well when your partner is almost ready to seal the deal. The fact that you show no rush to make the exchange makes him more comfortable with you and leads him to believe you are trustworthy and not looking to screw him up.
The more you talk about the deal instead of saying “Let’s do this,” the more tension he will feel. The ball will be in his court and he has to make a move. This works wonders if the other guy is in a hurry.
Ways to delay everything to create tension include:
- pausing a lot when you speak
- pausing before you answer
- if you’re the one buying, inspect the item thoroughly (even 2 or 3 times if you have to)
- going to the bathroom, ordering another drink
- calling someone to ask his opinion about the deal
- asking lots of questions about the product and take notice if the other party doesn’t know the answer
#4. Be Pessimistic
This one is tougher to master but works like a charm. Say things like:
I can’t afford it.
I’m not sure it will work for me.
I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it.
I’m probably going to screw it up.
These all ways of sharing doubts without saying you want a discount or a little bonus should the deal go through. It’s a less intrusive way of getting the other guy to say:
Okay, you can have these chickens as a bonus. Let’s just do this, all right?
Of course, if he seems unimpressed with what you’re saying, this is a good signal to you that he’s not very flexible about it OR that he’s a really good negotiator and knows about the tactic.
#5. Talk About Benefits, not Features
Products have features, we all know that. But people don’t want something because of the specs, they want it because it helps them solve a problem. If you can find out what problem they’re having, you can tell them how the item they want can help them solve it. But you have to take an interest in them and their lives for that.
How do you do that? Easy. Ask questions. Show some empathy. Unless you’re talking about price, it’s okay to take off the greedy salesman mask and show some genuine concerns for people’s lives.
#6. You Decide Where the Negotiation Takes Place
You may not be able to control what or how much he’ll give you in exchange for your goods and services, but you can always decide the little things, such as the meeting place, the date, time, and even the kind of beer you’ll be serving (if that’s the case). This will show them who’s in charge of the bartering process.
Another good reason for doing this is security. In a post-collapse society, showing up to an unknown place with valuable items on you could spell disaster. The negotiation can always take a turn for the worse, and they might rob you of everything you have. Even worse, they might follow you back home to see where you live and what else you’ve got.
It’s best to set the time and place and never show up alone. Bring a friend and a gun.
#7. Use the “Take it or leave it” Technique
This may sound extreme but it all depends on how good a negotiator you are. Practice in front of the mirror if you have to. You’ll be surprised to see people agree to your terms simply because you gave them an ultimatum.