Even Better Negotiating Tip: Practice With Live Ammo

Email  Print Print  

FMF shared a great negotiation tip nearly a week ago (I didn’t see it until it made an appearance on the Consumerist). The tip is that in negotiations, you should ask for something you don’t really want and then surrender it in discussions so you can get the things you do care about. The beauty of that tip is that you make a concession, the other party will likely make a concession, and you both feel like winners in the deal.

Now, I’ll do you one better, I say that in addition to doing that, you should practice with live ammunition. By this I mean you actually go into entirely throwaway negotiation scenarios. That’s right! You want to buy a Mini Cooper and are scared about negotiating with the dealer? Go to a Honda dealership and practice your negotiation skills on a new Civic. Go to a Ford dealership and try to argue down the price and terms of a Focus. The idea is that you should get your pre-negotiation jitters and your general process inexperience all worked out in similar situations where the outcome isn’t important.

The crucial part of this tip is that you go wholeheartedly through the entire preparation process. You must research the price of the Civic or Focus, you must figure out the strategy you wish to use, and you actually try to execute your plan. For all intents and purposes, you are going to buy that Civic if the deal is what you want… except you won’t. In the process, not only will you learn the dance but you’ll see all the little tricks and tactics the salesperson will employ to get you to seal the deal. Except you won’t, like a prude on prom night. 🙂

I wish I could take credit for coming up with th is idea all on my lonesome but it’s something I know that salespeople use all the time. Cold-calling and lead generation is a tough business, the success ratio is abysmal, and so a lot of folks will practice on impossible calls just to get themselves warmed up. By answering the tough questions with a prospect they believe they can’t possibly get, they loosen up and get used to the game before they go on a call that has a higher chance of a close and is thus more important.

If you have a good negotiation tip, please do share… or tear this one apart.

{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

Related Posts

RSS Subscribe Like this article? Get all the latest articles sent to your email for free every day. Enter your email address and click "Subscribe." Your email will only be used for this daily subscription and you can unsubscribe anytime.

14 Responses to “Even Better Negotiating Tip: Practice With Live Ammo”

  1. Leroy Brown says:

    I’d have to recommend against this tactic. Going to a car lot to practice negotiating on a car that you have no interest in isn’t a particularly nice thing to do. You’d be wasting a salesman’s time, when he could be working with a customer who actually has some interest in buying what he has to sell.

    I know people think car salesmen are evil, and some are, but most are regular folks trying to make a living like the rest of us. No reason to waste their time with stuff like this. Might make them miss out on a real customer.

    • Jonathan says:

      Pfftt, I recommend to do this to salespeople all day. You guys already have too much power and you do all these power trip tactics during negotiations. I know because I hard balled the Nissan dealership and they act like they are not making any profit on the deal and you have to squeeze every nickel from them. If you salespeople didn’t try to take advantage of customers so often then we wouldn’t have to practice negotiation so much. You guys get to practice negotiation every day. I think this strategy is great and for anyone who’s worth a damn and believes in their own hard work and don’t want to be taken advantage of, to use it!

  2. jim says:

    While it might be unfair to the salesperson to be negotiating in bad faith, that’s part of the business. If a salesperson is willing to change numbers on the final document (as they did with a friend of mine who recently bought a car), then all’s fair. A car salesperson will give you no quarter in a negotiation.

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    I guess I’d be worried about what Leroy Brown says. Maybe see if a salesfriend would practice with me and take them out to lunch in return. If I had a friend in sales.

    Another place to never ever ever practice bargaining is in bazaars/markets in the Middle East/Africa. Possibly not on other continents either. Bargaining is taken very seriously and it’s a direct insult to the person to participate and then drop out. If one is going to practice, it should be on a small item that one is willing to buy or if one is willing to pay full price but decides to see how low they can get it.

    Bottom line in foreign bazaars: if you engage the vendor, you should buy. This was stressed to us over and over as my student group prepared to visit Egypt.

    I think practicing with “live ammo” is a great idea, I just see these two places where it doesn’t seem like it would be right.

  4. Lencho says:

    Interesting post and a strategy that was never taught in my Negotiation class in b-school. I think that the Mini Cooper example is not the best one, however. I think the Mini Cooper dealer holds most of the power in a negotiation: the cars are very popular and they have limited production runs every year. In some places there are waiting lists to get them and customers routinely pay above sticker.

  5. dong says:

    I’m with Leroy on this. I think negotiating in bad faith is less than ethical. Just because some sales people don’t negotiate in good faith, doesn’t mean I need to stoop to their level. Besides I know more than few people sales people who are are always honest and more than forthcoming, I hate to see their time wasted by someone who’s negotiating in bad faith.

  6. jim says:

    Why is it less than ethical?

  7. Carl says:

    I think this is a great tactic because if what’s the worse that can happen? You lowball it so much that the salesman actually gives in and you get a great deal?

    And to the people who think this is unethical:

    Do you also think it’s unethical to go to Best Buy or CompUSA to look at products only to buy them online?

    • Cubex DE says:


      Wasting a store employee’s time when you plan on buying the product somewhere else is entirely unethical.

      I am a Best Buy employee. I hate nothing more than an idiot customer wasting my time and then having other (real) customers chew me out for taking so much time and not helping them. If the original ***hole had just done a five second Google search instead of bothering me, I could have helped someone who actually needed me to help them.

      I’m not on commission, but I hate getting yelled at. Make my life easier and only ask me for info if you plan on buying it from me.

      I want to help customers. I don’t want to help people walking by on the street. Want my help? Be my customer.

  8. Tim says:

    first, the cliche: never ask for something you do not want, because you may in fact get it.

    second, you should have an acceptable offer in mind in a negotiation anyways. Shoot for the stars, but know what you are willing to settle on. This means that you should be prepared to walk away. So, instead of wasting your time and another car dealership’s time, just go in prepared to begin with.

    Morality/ethics aside, the problem with doing a live ammo test run, as you called it, is that you already know you are not going to buy the civic regardless of the dealer’s concessions. Your actions and mentality in the negotiation will be different than if you are negotiating for something you intend to actually buy. Worse yet, you could end up buying the civic instead of the mini.

    instead, just do your research. Establish a budget, an offer price (shoot for the stars) that would be your best case scenario, and a no kidding purchase price (acceptable compromise), which if it does not get met you are willing to walk away from the deal. I don’t think a surrender offer is worthwhile. I think if you do your research and come up with your best case scenario price, that is what you should begin with; otherwise, it just seems like a throw away offer and you don’t take it seriously. If you take the initial offer seriously, you might in fact get it. If you don’t take it seriously because it is a surrender or throw away offer, I think in general people can pickup on it and won’t take you serious, resulting in a lower offer than what you intended.

  9. Tejas Joshi says:

    Hi there,

    I think this is a great tip. I have myself tried this when I bought my first car. Also, I experience this every time we have to rent a house (due to job, we have moved 5 times from east coast west coast in last 3 years). Only downside of this approach is – If you know already that it’s just a practice session, you will never “go” for it wholeheartedly.

    I think trick here is to do it every time with serious intentions. While renting, for example, I look at every apartment community with intention to stay there if all factors match our expectations. But, if it doesn’t turn out that way, it’s still OK, because I know it has worked as practice session for me.

    In your example, it is same as going to multiple mini cooper car dealers, instead of going to honda and toyota dealers. So, even at the first dealer, you are serious about buying and wholehearted effort comes automatically.

  10. Bryan Scott says:

    Don’t worry about wasting their time. Just think how you are honing their skills to. GO to the dealership when they would have little to no traffic anyway (weedays before noon) and they probably are just sitting around drinking coffee and chatting anyway..waiting for buyers to roll in.

    And remember…the BEST negotiating tactic you can use at a dealership is walking away…you can ALWAYS walk away! There are many other dealerships around that sell the same cars you can go to. The idea is you have to know exactly what you should be paying, and you should look up the invoice of the car so you can approximate what they paid for it….bring in a print out from , and they usually match that price without too much of a fight…or buy from them and forego the dealership!

  11. AndrewNYC says:

    I have read several of the negotiation tips. I see the same constant throughout them. They are for people you may never see again after the transaction. As part of my work I have to negotiate with the same people on a regular basis. Screwing someone over one time will get you screwed the next time. That being said, I have to be able to look the person in the eye without having that dirty feeling the next time I sit down across the table from them. I try to remember that if you both feel like you gave something up; then it was a good negotiation.

  12. steve says:

    who’s to say that the salesman wouldn’t benefit or learn something from this exercise? –if only “how to recognize when someone really isn’t interested in buying your product”

    also, I have to say that it’s a good negotiation if you got what you wanted, and that’s your only responsibility. Whether the other party gets what they wanted is their responsibility. They are adults and are perfectly capable of knowing what is not in their own self interest and telling you “no”. The reality is, as hard as you bargain, you will likely be outbargained by the pro. Don’t “take care of” your adversary in a negotiation.

Please Leave a Reply
Bargaineering Comment Policy

Previous Article: «
Next Article: »
Advertising Disclosure: Bargaineering may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.
About | Contact Me | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use | Press
Copyright © 2016 by All rights reserved.