Art of Negotiating: Knowing When to Shut Up
The best rental car deal I ever got happened when I shut my mouth.
I was at the rental counter at the airport in LA waiting for the clerk to get my car keys – I’d reserved an economy car – when he finally got through poking around on his keyboard and announced, “I’m sorry. We’re out of economy cars. Would you like to upgrade?”
I waited a beat or two and considered. It would cost only an extra few dollars a day. But I said “No” mainly to see what he would offer me.
After a minute or two of continued keyboard hacking, he finally said, “I can offer you a Mitsubishi Eclipse for the price of the economy car. But I must warn you – it’s a convertible. Is that okay?”
Yeah, um, sure.
I didn’t consider the size of my (large) suitcase or the size of the (small) trunk. When I got out to the car, I discovered the suitcase didn’t actually fit into the trunk. But I was able to push the passenger’s seat forward and fit my suitcase into the back seat area, which was very small, but larger than the trunk. At that point I didn’t even think about putting the top down to toss my suitcase in, but…whatever.
So for the 4 days in March I was in LA it was around 80 degrees and I drove around with the top down most of the time.
I ended up driving around much more than I normally would have. I headed up the freeway to the Getty Museum. I ended up at the beach one day.
The Eclipse probably would have cost me twice as much had I reserved it, but I ended up with it because I shut up. By not taking the first deal, by keeping my mouth shut, I got a better deal.
This often works in the busy, chaotic environment of a tradeshow where hundreds of exhibitors are clamoring for your attention, and ultimately your business. And often it’s an excellent way to get people’s business. If you’re an exhibitor, don’t you feel pressured to throw more into the deal to close the sale? If you’re a buyer, do you jump at the first offer, even if it’s good, or do you bite your tongue so you can wait to see what else is on the table?
What extra value can you offer your visitors to help move them to sign on the dotted line? It needn’t be something that costs you a lot – as long as it has a high perceived value it may be enough to move the deal forward.
The Eclipse that I got for the economy price probably didn’t cost the rental car company much extra at all – but it was a high perceived value – which will take me back to that rental car company again.