Through my buying and selling experience, I realized later on that I was naturally improving my negotiation and bargaining skills.
My 8 best negotiating and bargaining tips
- Learn to actively listen – I have learned to ask questions and then stop talking to let the other person talk. For example, it can get very silent and awkward when I am going through someone’s sports cards collection and I am trying to calculate the collection’s value, so I ask a lot of questions. I ask about how they got into the hobby, how they acquired the collection, why they are selling, what their favorite players or teams are, and on and on. Every single time I have acquired some piece of knowledge that will help me get closer to the price I want to pay.
- Research, research, research – never, ever go into a negotiation without doing your due diligence. Always research. In the sports cards world, there is always eBay to research, but sometimes I need to reach out to dealer friends for help if a card is so rare that there are no completed sales. Same goes for any negotiation such as negotiating your salary. Be prepared. No, be over prepared and then set your limit or bottom line.
- Do not get defensive or emotional – this is a trap that I see many buyers and dealers fall victim to. It is really easy to get defensive about one’s price on a specific card or collection. Let the other person win because the long term play is to make the other person feel good about themselves so you can get the best deal.
- Show empathy and understand the other person’s point of view – as you negotiate it is so easy to focus on your own benefit. Take a minute to actively listen and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You might not directly benefit but showing empathy will allow you to be more personable.
- Do not rush and do not waste time – I never want to put myself in a scenario in which I am in a time crunch. If I am in a rush, then I will not be able to actively listen and build a relationship. You also want to be mindful of the other person’s time. If you are so far off and that person clearly has some sort of sentimental attachment or priced out of range, step back and move on. Not all deals work out and I would much rather move on to the next deal.
- Be willing to walk away. There will ALWAYS be another opportunity – sometimes you have to stand firm. When I go into a negotiation to buy a sports cards collection, I have a value of which I will not and cannot go over based on the profit margin I want to make. If the other person is standing firm, then be willing to walk away. Save time and money and just walk away.
- Be willing to give in – contradicting myself much? One negotiation tactic that has worked out is knowing when to give in. There is a fine line because if you give in too many times, then you will be overpaying or underselling yourself. The only reason why I have given in is because I saw a potential to build a relationship. When I am set up as a dealer at a local card show, there are many regulars so I tend to see the same people at every show. Networking is an extremely important part of the sports cards business. As part of my probing questions, I can get a sense of whether the person is someone I can build a business relationship with. For me this is more of a gut instinct play.
- Bundling – one of my most successful negotiating tactics I have used is bundling. For example, I will approach a showcase and pick out 5 cards that I like based on the prices the other person wants. When we are close to the price I want, but neither party is willing to give in, then I look around and see if I can add some additional cards. Throughout this process, I am asking questions and realizing what cards the person might be more attached to and based on that I will add additional cards where there might be more room to negotiate on price. This tactic increases the collection price I am paying, but my profit margin increases because the other person is getting more money but is cutting me a deal from a per card profit margin perspective.