Use Garage Sales And Flea Markets To Hone Your Skills

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Topics: Negotiating

During Jack Miller’s Negotiation Seminar, everyone got in a bus to go to the flea market for an hour.  When we came back, we each shared our negotiation success and showed off our “deal” purchases.  I remember getting a pretty vase… original asking price was $20.  I bought it for $3.  (if you don’t ask for a better price, you won’t get it)  The flea market trip was a good way for everyone in the class to get comfortable with negotiating… and asking for a better price.  See Jack Miller’s advice about negotiating below.

One of the best places for the neophyte to learn to negotiate is at garage sales or flea markets, It’s the equivalent of playing pool for “fun”. There are several advantages to using garage sales as a practice green for negotiation:

a.    No matter whether you come out ahead or behind, only minute sums of money can be won or lost, so both buyer and seller are a lot more relaxed.

b.    People who are willing to have their personal possessions pawed over and denigrated by the public are extroverts. They like people, so they’re easy to talk to and to negotiate with. They expect you to negotiate; not pay the asking price,

c.    Every now and then, as you go to more and more garage sales, you’ll actually find some treasure that you can buy for a pittance, so you “earn” while you learn.

d.    Practicing negotiation where the outcome doesn’t matter is a real confidence-builder. It helps you to think on your feet in a dynamic give and take situation, and to brush up on your repartee.

e.    It gives you a chance to practice various negotiating ploys with little risk to life and limb – or cash – to see how negotiating techniques work out in the real world.

g. Most importantly of all, garage sales and flea markets can be a source of potential house sellers who are cleaning out junk preparatory to placing their houses on the market.

People don’t make financial deals when they’re tense. That’s why salesmen usually tell customers a lot of jokes, and why Hong Kong merchants and Las Vegas casinos offer unlimited free drinks to customers. I try to get people to relax before we start talking money. For instance, I make it a practice to greet the garage sellers cheerfully, and say something about the nice day, or their nice home or lawn so as to set a jocular tone for any negotiation that might follow.

I’ve also found that people negotiate a lot less earnestly with someone they perceive as a friend rather than a stranger. My first friendly overture is to take a genuine interest in the other parties and to give them a chance to become acquainted with me,

Learning to read people by analyzing their response to this can provide real clues as to how to converse with them and how they might respond to various offers. Aside from helping to evaluate their attitude, it also gives a clue to their level of sophistication. It can be lethal to make an offer the other person can’t understand. Oh, they don’t say that they don’t understand, they just turn down the offer.

At garage sales, prior to focusing on what’s for sale, or making any offer I usually ask sellers how long they’ve lived in Reno, and where they originally came from. If possible, I’ll try to say something personal to them to start the process of their seeing me as an agreeable kind of fellow who means them no harm. This opens the door to some techniques I use to get them to also start having fun, and to get them into the spirit of give and take. (The emphasis here is on give”)

A long time ago when I was negotiating for a rural interstate intersection with a guy who was raising cows on it, I learned that a little time spent in exchanging small talk and pleasantries (“spittin and whitlin”) can go a long way toward being able to build a foundation of trust between the parties which is essential to improving communication about an offer. This is particularly true when not too much is a stake.

Following are a baker’s dozen ploys among many I’ve used to soften up garage sale sellers, and which can be applied to house sellers, to get them to relax and start having fun with their sale, and to help my negotiation,

1. Before I make any offer on anything, I explain to them that I am a professionally qualified garage sale expert, and that they have no chance negotiating against me; thus, they should just sell at my offered price and save us all a lot of trouble.

2 If I arrive several hours after the sale has started, I explain that I’ve been sent by the sanitation department to estimate how much of their obviously unwanted and unsalable stuff will be left for the garbage men for the next pickup.

3.    Sometimes, I represent that I’m an official representative of the American Garage Owners Group (AGOG) and am inspecting them to be sure that their garage sale merchandise meets requirements. To wit: They must have at least one piece of virtually unused exercise equipment, (Thigh Masters are very popular.) They must also have children’s clothing, and at least one item of merchandise must have no use whatsoever. When I leave, they’re often AGOG.

4.    Occasionally, when I make a low offer, I explaining that I’m trying to buy something for my Mom’s 90th birthday present, but my budget is limited to something well under $1. (Or in any event, far below the asking price.)

5.    In other instances, I’ll apologize for making an extremely low offer by stating that, as a professional garage sale expert, they would drum me out of AGOG if I ever paid anything remotely close to their asking price.

6.    Sometimes I’ll ask what the worst offer they’ve had for an object has been, then explain that I’m out to set a new record for ridiculous offers and request their help.

7.    When we reach any kind of impasse on price, I’ll ask them how much time and effort they think it will take to move all the stuff they have back into storage, or back into the house if it starts to rain.

Then, I’ll offer to flip a coin to see whether they take their last price or mine. No matter who wins, the price will be pretty low.

8.    I often find something I want, but wait until ( can round up a lot of other items to throw into, and confuse, the deal. Then, I lump them all together, and ask if they have “wholesale group rates” for “bulk buyers”, making a low offer for the pile.

9.    Sometimes, once we’ve reached an agreement on price, I’ll ask how much of a discount they’ll give me if I use American money instead of Canadian or Mexican.

10.    I avoid disparaging anything that’s for sale, but I will stand for a long time looking at a defect without saying anything, giving them a chance to realize that what they have isn’t worth very much in its present condition.

11.    For anything that must operate such as a computer, refrigerator, power tool, FAX machine, vacuum cleaner, etc., I learned from a fellow garage-saler to ask where the original manuals and warranty cards are, along with all attachments and power cords. They usually won’t have, these, so then I ask what they think a person should pay for something that is incomplete and possibly inoperable. (I’ve been known to mention that I’m a Disabled Veteran who served his country in peace and war… unfortunately on the wrong side.)

12.    When making an offer, I thrust wads of various denomination bills into their hands, forcing them to give the money back if they turn me down. They rarely do this.

13.    Even after I’ve gotten the price I want, I ask them if they aren’t required to warn the public that they are Ace Negotiators. I’m trying to make them feel guilty enough to throw in something else after the deal has been made.

Try to visualize yourself as a seller dealing with me. Wouldn’t you end up grinning rather than frowning when I start pulling all of this stuff off? Can you see that everybody is having a good time even though we’re talking about money?

You can learn a lot more about negotiating and buying houses at great prices, in Jack Miller’s seminar manual CREATING WEALTH WITH HOUSES… now available in all ebook reader formats and paperback.

Jack’s NEGOTIATIONS MANUAL is also filled with creative negotiation techniques

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