The Key to Negotiating
Over lunch, Weintraub said, "When I'm negotiating, I always think about where I want to end up." In other words, you have to know that while the seller starts at a high asking price, you have to start with a low opening offer. When each party takes small steps, the gap between them is closed and eventually they have an agreement.
What will convince the seller to come down on his asking price? Leverage.
"I see leverage as an angle people use to exercise power in deal-making situations," Weintraub explained. An example of leverage in the first dialogue was when the salesman asked Weintraub if he was looking for any other vehicles to buy. Instead of just saying yes, Weintraub replied, "What you do right now could lead to more business for you." He made the current deal into an audition for future business.
In the second dialogue, Weintraub didn't just say he didn't want to pay $30,500 for the car; he said they had found a similar car for $28,000. His offer for $29,000, for a newer car, was slightly above the competing car — a sale for the dealer and a savings for the buyer.
Working Toward "Yes"
There is a popular expression in negotiating: "The first person who speaks loses." But Weintraub doesn't necessarily adhere to that philosophy. Instead, he might simply start the car negotiation by asking the salesman, "What do you guys price these cars at right now?"
While this might seem like a vague way to begin, it means that they might throw out a lower starting price than you expected. Once they announce their position, you can know where to position your opening offer.
Above all else, though, you have to be firm. "Early on, the person you are dealing with forms a perception of you, and this could keep you from getting the deal you want. It's all about perception." He added, "Good negotiators are good at overcoming the dealer's leverage and holding firm to what they are willing to spend."
Negotiating sometimes means countering the leverage others try to turn against you. "When I send a client to the dealership for a test-drive, I tell them to be aloof about the car even if they really love it," Weintraub said.
Finally, Weintraub advises people not to negotiate with salespeople who might intimidate or pressure them. "There are other salespeople and there are other dealerships," he said. "I do that every day; find someone I feel I can work with."
Stick to Your Own Style
It's important to play to your own strengths when negotiating any deal. Whether you are relaxed and personable, like Weintraub, or "in your face" like some closers at dealerships, car negotiations are most successful when you feel you are in the right.
"When you're fighting for the right thing, you gain a lot of power," Weintraub said. "And if you can make a person who has what you want feel good about giving it to you — that's the art."