So you’ve made the exciting decision to buy a boat? Your search is well under way, you’re trawling through selling sites such as Rightboat.com, making contact with vendors and brokers, and spending your weekends viewing potential purchases. The right boat is tantalisingly close, and you’ll soon enter the next phase on your boat buying journey; negotiating a price.
Not everyone is a natural negotiator and for many of us it isn’t something we have to do on a regular basis. A boat is a big purchase however, and you need to ensure you are not paying over the odds. While there are negotiating tips for buying a boat which are specific to the marine industry – everything from negotiating on extras, to not getting swayed by a long list of equipment and taking along a professional - here we take a look at look ways you can become a better all-round negotiator. Start practicing today and by the time your perfect boat pops up you’ll be a pro. So what are the top tips you need to know?
1. Change Your Mind Set
The first thing to do is change the way you think about negotiating. Rather than seeing it as a complicated and often negative, stress-filled activity, you need to start seeing this as a simple, respectful process which involves finding mutually agreeable solutions without conflict. This is not haggling and bartering. Negotiating anywhere in the world involves a thoughtful process with other people who have come together to discuss a way to a solution where everyone leaves satisfied. Enter discussions with an open mind, a fair approach, a friendly demeanour and most importantly a clear end result (in this case buying a boat) and you will come out satisfied and happy.
2. Be clear about what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it
Being assertive and stating what outcome you would like sets the tone for the negotiations and lets the other party know where you stand. But keep in mind that there is the big difference between being assertive and aggressive, so state your position in a calm and non-confrontational tone. Assertive means you are taking care of your own interests, but doing so with respect for the other person.
3. Listen carefully
This might be your most valuable tool in any negotiations. While our natural instinct is to be the one to do the talking, you will learn much more about the other party and be in a stronger position if you let them do the talking and you sit back and listen carefully. Become a detective, ask probing, open-ended questions, and then sit back and listen to the response. The other party will tell you everything you need to know to take the upper hand in the negotiations.
4. See the situation from all angles
Armed with the answers to your questions and having listened intently to the other person you will be able to start working out what their situation is, and that is a strong position to be in. If you focus only on what you want and not the other person’s position you will be putting yourself at a disadvantage. Rather than trying to win the negotiation, try to find a way for the other person to feel satisfied whilst still getting what you want. For example, you might agree to their asking price but negotiate 6 months of berthing costs to be included which in fact amount to the same lowered price you were originally asking for.
Another important skill in seeing the situation from all angles is to focus on the pressure the other party is feeling and not on your own. They have the boat you desperately want and it is easy to see the vendor as being in s stronger position that you. But why are they selling? What is the pressure they are feeling right now? You will feel and project a more powerful vibe once you work out why the other person needs to give in.
5. Be prepared
Head to the negotiating table armed with all the information you can find. Knowledge is power and if you know the true value of the boat after comparing it with similar models you will have a clear price in mind and won’t agree to anything more. Go armed with print outs to help negotiations as many vendors are emotionally attached to their boats and will therefore think their boat is worth more than a similar example.
Think through your options in advance and try to work out what the other party needs, what pressures they feel, why they need to sell their boat, and what other options they have. By gaining an understanding of the other side’s situation, through thorough research and good listening, you will be in the stronger position.
6. Be willing to walk away
It’s taken you months to find the right boat, you have your heart set on it and you don’t want to walk away from it. But heading into a negotiation without options – in this case, not buying the boat – will put you in a weaker position. If you tell yourself you will walk away if you don’t get it for the price you want, then the other party will know you mean business. If you don’t even consider the option of walking away you’re more likely to get pressured into paying the vendor’s price just to secure the boat.
7. Take your time
Be patient and flexible, and know that there is always a tomorrow if things are getting heated or not going the way you want. In Asian, South American and the Middle Eastern cultures it is cultural practice to take their time over a negotiation, but this has become somewhat of a lost art in Europe and North America. If you rush, your chances are higher of making a poor decision or a mistake. Often, taking stock of a conversation or sleeping on it will allow you go to into renewed discussions with a clearer plan. In addition, your patience and lack of urgency can frustrate a vendor who is keen to get things wrapped up quickly, and they will be more inclined to make concessions.
8. Don’t get distracted by personal issues
Always try to keep the main point at the heart of the negotiations and don’t get side tracked by the other party’s personality or behaviour. This can often be easier said than done, but your ultimate goal is buying a boat at the price you want it for, not making a new friend. So long as both parties’ interests are met and there is mutual respect between you, don’t get distracted by things they say which are not directly related to the boat. Imagine the vendor tells you the boat is being sold because their business has gone bankrupt, and they need the money hence the elevated price tag. While you will obviously feel for the person’s unfortunate situation, the value of the boat doesn’t change because of it, or because of your feelings towards them.
9. Stay optimistic…but not too keen
Optimism and eagerness are very different attributes in negotiations. If you show you are desperate to buy the boat you will be putting yourself on a back footing as the vendor knows you’re unlikely to walk away. However, projecting optimism can have the opposite effect; the more you expect, the more you’ll get. This could include opening negotiations with a much lower price than you’re willing to pay. The higher you aim for the better outcome you will get.
10. Stay calm and avoid getting emotional
The most important tip in successful negotiations is to keep your cool. The quickest and most common way for negotiations to unravel is when one or both parties get emotional and confrontational. Of course, being emotional doesn’t only include getting angry, and getting upset at the thought of losing out on your dream boat will cloud your thinking and judgement. If things get heated then take a break and pick things up the next day after you’ve had a chance to take stock and calm down.
Before you get to the negotiating, you need to find the perfect boat. Start your search at Rightboat.com where thousands of boats all over the world are on offer. With our friendly advice, no-pressure approach and user-friendly search parameters you will be spoilt for choice and in the driving seat when it comes to negotiating the best price.
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