Getting What You Want

The whole concept of negotiating is intimidating to many people … I’d like to add that negotiating is not something to be avoided or feared – it’s an everyday part of life. ~ Leigh Steinberg

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by Pete Ferguson

Part of Manning Up in life is making sure you are in pursuit of what you want.

I’m currently visiting my parents and last night I was talking with my father about his step-father, Bill Bates.

Grandpa Bill was someone who made sure everyone knew what he wanted. I remember when I was about nine years old we were on a walk and he decided he wanted to go on private property to show us some tadpoles in a nearby irrigation ditch. We were very concerned about breaking the rules, but he persisted and we followed him past the “No Trespassing” signs and onto the field.

Looking in the water, we did find some tadpoles, we also found a pretty upset farmer on his ATV. My grandfather ignored the man’s anger, asked him his name and over the next 4-5 minutes, talked him down until they were discussing the weather, the price of gas, and family matters.

In life, its rarely about getting a chance; its about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing wont work. Most of the time you just have to go for it! And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. ~ Markesa Yeager

Grandpa Bill was notorious for going a little too far at times with family members, but I learned a lot from him – mostly that if I know what I want, I can find a way to get it. The key is to make sure I do not leave a trail of bodies on my quest.

Another infamous story of my grandfather was when it came time to get a new vehicle. He would do his homework to figure out the dealer’s cost, have the cash in hand and go to the dealer, and not come home until he had the car. I’ve heard stories of the manager trying to have him physically removed from the property, but eventually give in and grandpa would come home with a new truck for work or a new car for grandma.

I’ve learned a lot less caustic way of getting what I want. I recognize that I would like to save some of my hard-earned cash but that the store is also making a healthy profit. When it comes to larger purchases, I do my homework, and then go to the store and look around for a while and see if there isn’t a scratch-n-dent or floor model of what I want.

When it comes time to bargaining, I simply ask “is that the best you can do?” Several times. I’m always amazed at how most of the time it is not the best they can do and they come up with a better deal. Sign up for this card, add another item to the cart, here is a coupon … but asking that simple question pays back great dividends.

One of my most read posts here is “Why Drive a Ford Taurus when You Can Drive a Jag.” What I failed to mention in that post was that as I had negotiated down the price for the first car – the Taurus – I had asked several times if that was the best they could do and the price came down into a more reasonable range. I know our salesman sometimes reads my posts, so he may have a different version of the story.

But in life, always ask “is that the best you can do?” Sometimes you’ll get back a blank stare from someone not in a position to make any deals. But almost always I’ve either had the salesperson give me a sweeter deal or be escalated up to a manager who was in a position to want my repeat business.

The other part of this is important – it needs to be a win-win proposition. Stephanie and I have bought almost every piece of furniture in our house from Vern Olsen at RC Willey because Vern has always treated us right, found a floor model or other way of making a deal. And as a result, he’s had us and our family members as loyal customers for over a decade.

Author and career coach Dan Miller often recounts when he was selling cars he worked through their cleaning lady – who spoke spanish – to sell a car to a hispanic family. For many more years they always came to him – and brought their family as well.

Be open and honest, be fair and frugal. And always ask, “is that the best you can do?”


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