Getting to Yes
Negotiation Strategies that Get Your Sales Closed
When it comes to negotiating a sale, it's not about winning. In fact, it's not about losing either. It's about being creative and taking a risk.
Just ask Judy Moses, ABR, GRI, CRS, PMS, SRES, a sales associate with Pathway Home Realty Group in the Boston area.
"I had a client who wanted to make an offer on a house. I did some research and told him that based on the market, we should actually offer a lower amount than what the buyer suggested," Moses said. "My buyer was shocked and concerned he would lose the property if he did that."
The property was vacant, and Moses encouraged him to write a friendly letter to the sellers about why he liked the house so much. According to Moses, time spent writing a personal letter is time well spent.
It turns out, the sellers knew the buyer and loved his family, and they were delighted he wanted to buy the home. "They asked him to increase his offer by five thousand dollars," Moses said. The kicker: the buyer originally wanted to make an offer for 25 thousand more than the final price.
"Everyone was happy," Moses said. That, says Robert Morris, Jr., is collaboration at its best. Morris, ABR, ABRM, CRB, CRS, PMN, is a broker-trainer with Advanced Training & Seminars LLC in Murfreesboro, TN, and a designation instructor for Women's Council.
"How can we get all the objectives met? You must have a goal of collaboration rather than confrontation," he says. After all, "satisfaction is a perception that you got all that you wanted."
Here are some strategies for negotiating a sale:
Set Up for Success. Don't set yourself up as an adversary with the other agent, according to Morris. He says it's vital to call the other agent ahead of time and tell him or her, "Thank you for choosing our property. We want this to work as much as you do. At the end of the day, we want to reach the same conclusion."
He continues, "We need to keep our own egos in check. It's not personal; it's business. Don't take it personally, and don't try to push your agenda."
Cecily Tippery, CRS, PMN, a broker-associate with Prudential California Realty in Brentwood, CA, agrees. "Remember, it's not about you," Tippery said. "It's about the buyers and the sellers."
Listen and Ask. Sometimes, says Tippery, it's more about what they aren't saying than what they are. "Pay attention to non-verbal cues," Tippery said. "Many times they talk about issues related to what they really want but don't actually tell you." Listen for hesitation in their voices.
For Moses, It's all about the questions you ask and your ability to truly listen. "You have to know all the parties and what they want and what's not so important to them," she says. "Ask open-ended questions."
Customers and clients will tell you what's important. Sometimes agents prioritize incorrectly because they don't really listen, Morris said.
Pace it Right. It's important to use time to your advantage. "Sometimes people respond too quickly or not quickly enough," Moses said. It's a delicate balance to keep the pace going so both parties remain interested but not overly anxious."
Moses compares it to shopping. "You put something in your cart and walk around. If you spend too long in the store, you may think 'I really don't need this' and walk away." The trick, she says, is figuring out that balance. And that has everything to do with the market.
Provide Choices. "I always prepare for the possible objections and have ideas for addressing them or reframing the situation," Moses said. "For example, if the sellers want money down by a certain date but your buyers need time to move the money from a certain account, you can say, 'We can put less down now but if you wait two weeks, we can do exactly what you want,'" she says. "When people have a choice, they will be less adversarial as long as that choice is something everyone can live with."
Be Open. "All agents need to remain flexible and open to different options. If you're closed, it will prohibit productive negotiations from moving forward," Morris said. "After all, a negotiation is really a lose-lose, not a win-win." The best negotiations end with both parties giving up something for the good of the transaction.
The truth, says Tippery, is that in life, "You're negotiating everything all the time whether you know it or not. It's about trying to find a way to talk to people without browbeating them. It's a life skill about creating open-ended communication and understanding."
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