Gimme! Gimme! Gimme: Negotiating the Sale of Your Vehicle

Children are expert negotiators. Give them the bedliner, and they will negotiate everything: bed time, snacks, homework, dinner, fun, and so on. In their child-like minds, of course, they are only in it for themselves. They don’t care who else wins or suffers, as long as they get their way. When my youngest was 3 years old, he had one-word negotiations. He would march into a room and yell, “Snack!” and expect the world to stop rotating while somebody got him his cheese and crackers. My older children are sneakier about how they “negotiate” (dare I say manipulate?). Imagine getting woken up at 3:35 in the morning to be asked, “Can I watch Netflix?” Children can figure us adults out rather quickly. They are always trying to negotiate things to their advantage. If you are going to sell your vehicle for top dollar, you are going to have to negotiate the price and terms of the sale.

There are 2 indispensable elements of negotiation. Without both of these things, you end up with nothing and worst and manipulation at best. First and foremost, in order to have negotiation, you have to have commitment. In order for there to be actual negotiation, there must first be 2 committed parties. In the case of negotiating the price and terms of your vehicle sale, you have to be committed to selling it, and somebody else has to be committed to buy it. Closing and negotiating are 2 separate things. If you do not have a committed buyer in front of you, you may as well set up a mirror in front of yourself and negotiate in the mirror, because the only person you are negotiating with is yourself. As you can see, there is an order and process to selling your car. If you are going to sell it for top dollar, you have to follow the steps in order. First get a commitment to buy, and then negotiate the price and terms of the sale.

What do you do if someone wants to negotiate before committing to buy your vehicle? The easiest thing to do is simply remind your customer that pricing does not matter, if he does not like it. Say something like, “I understand that you’re concerned about money. We all are. And we’ll discuss that. But first I want to make sure that this is the right car for you, because if you don’t like it-nothing else matters. Am I right?” Your customer will almost always agree with this statement. It is the truth, and there is no logical way around it. Nobody is going to pay for something he does not like. This wording or something similar will bypass premature negotiations almost every time and allow you to continue showing the vehicle.

Not only must there be 2 committed parties for successful negotiations, both sides have to win something. This is where children most often get it wrong. They’re in it for themselves and nobody else. They have to be taught to look at the bigger picture. For negotiations to work, everybody has to win. I played basketball in high school. I can tell you that nothing upset me more than losing. I cried when I lost at Monopoly until I was at least 12 years old. Nobody likes losing. So in negotiations, having winners and losers is a very bad thing. The reality is, either both sides win or both sides lose. There is no middle ground. If you are going to successfully negotiate, both you and your customer need to leave the negotiations feeling like winners.

There is no hard and fast rule for how negotiations run, when you are selling a vehicle. It will be different with each customer. Some customers are like children. They want what they want, and there is no reasoning with them. Some customers will believe anything you tell them or show them on paper. Most customers just want to make sure they are getting a fair shake on the deal. They way most people do that is to ask for price concessions. As a private seller, that is about the only thing you have to concede. So be prepared to negotiate the price.

Here is how to do it and retain money (most of the time). First, don’t be afraid of your price. You know your market. You’ve prepared the vehicle and priced it right. Stand by it. Ask for all the money, and wait for your customer to respond. It is vitally important not to speak until after your customer says yes, no, or counters. If the customer counters, do not accept the offer, even if it is reasonable. Counter with an offer of your own. Only move in increments of $50 – $100. This will build value in the price you originally asked. Usually about the 3rd time, your customer will accept an offer. That is not a hard and fast rule. The main thing is that your counter-offers should move in small amounts, not large amounts. As long as the customer feels like he has negotiated and gotten some concessions, he will feel like a winner. And you are getting a price reasonably close to what you originally asked; so feel like a winner.

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