Negotiation 101

Kumar Thangudu

July 15, 2015

Today, I left 40 dirhams on the table while negotiating for a watch. It was the perfect weather for negotiations, hot. (Middle of Ramadan as well.) I had some well intentioned friendly fire interference in the negotiation, but it was only ~$10USD.

There’s a lot of stuff I learned about negotiating in India, so I figured I’d share a few tips that have been helpful for me.

  1. If they’re smiling, you’ve lost.
  2. Never speak too loudly, just enough to make them sweat that the other customers can hear your low prices.
  3. Never bring in a previous price to the negotiation. That sets a bottom floor and should only be used as a last resort.
  4. You can never say a number low enough to insult the sales person.
  5. If you’re clearly a foreigner, you’ve already been swindled. No matter how good of a negotiator that you think you are, you’ve ultimately lost. The question becomes how much less you were swindled than someone else from your native country in the same position.
  6. If you haven’t walked out at least 5 times, then you’ve probably already lost.
  7. Any allies should follow your swift movements upon exit. They should be waiting outside for you to create a sense of urgency.
  8. The bigger the line of customers behind you, the more you should bottleneck the negotiation by taking your time, and preventing other customers from getting to the front. This makes the other side sweat bullets. (Welcome to the world of 3rd world style negotiations.)
  9. Once you get to the register, you can squeeze them for even more with second thoughts. The game isn’t over. Keep pushing. Make sure the credit card is in their hand before chiming in and saying ‘wait.’ Why is it X price? I think it’s too much. I’m having second thoughts.’
  10. Never nod your head. Ever. You should be shaking your head left and right the entire time as if you feel like you’re in the middle of a shakedown and you know you’re getting swindled.
  11. A single positive emotion shown to the other side means you’ve lost ground. Remember that time you got picked last in gym class? Run through that scenario in your head while negotiating to make yourself look not happy. Your smile is an expensive delta between the price they have in their head and the price you want it to go down to. They have to EARN your smile.

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