By David Wm. Tuttle, Ph.D., CPA
The words bartering, persuasion, horse-trading, negotiations, people handling skills, charisma, are all related to each other because they all connote getting people to do something that they were not doing before you came on the scene!
In our modern world, everything is controlled by someone else. And human nature the way it is, people will not act unless they feel it is in their best interests.
Successful “people-handlers” are at the top of every organizational ladder because they know how to get people to act in a unified manner, giving either the buyers or the sellers what they need so that all parties to the transaction can feel like winners.
Since this is the case, it behooves us all to improve our persuasion and negotiating skills if we want to improve our lives here on earth.
A good percentage of the work we do at Tuttle & Tuttle involves negotiating tax audits, payment plans, and offers in compromise settlements for our clients with the Internal Revenue Service, EDD, Board of Equalization, and other governmental agencies. But our negotiating is not limited to working on our client’s behalf.
We are always negotiating with our employees, settling differences among them; we negotiate with our suppliers, trying to get them to accept barter from us and to get the best delivery and payment terms; we negotiate with everyone in the course of ordinary business and pleasure pursuits whose interests are not necessarily aligned with ours.
While this article suggests general principles in win-win negotiations (which is a close cousin to bartering), you as a barterer can become better at your craft, and become richer to boot, if you attach these simple principles to all of your trades in the future. And let’s not forget everything in life involves a trade!
The term “negotiation” conjures up to many people an image of high-level, peace-making between countries involved in a dispute, where war or the end of war might be the fruit of the negotiating endeavor.
However, I view the term as much more of an everyday common type of activity, which includes a discussion between at least two interested people on how to settle a difference.
Under my usage of the term negotiating, everyone negotiates many times, every day, to get what they need from other people for their personal and job life.
The noted lecturer and author Zig Ziglar is fond of saying, he knows he can get anything he wants in life, if he helps enough other people get what they want.
This type of outlook by Mr. Ziglar demonstrates what is referred to as the “Win-Win” style of negotiating. It is characterized by much listening, observing, and reflecting by both parties as to what the “other side” truly wants and needs.
No two people are the same. That is why opposing sides do not necessarily want the same things from the negotiation, which explains why the best negotiators know that only when both sides come out winners is the negotiation a long-term success.
My father, who was a very fine attorney with many years of experience in drafting contracts between parties having opposing interests, once told me that all contracts would eventually fail if they do not bring benefits to both parties.
Some of my readers at this point might ask, how could that be the case? How can something good for my “opponent” be good for me? The answer lies in what best selling author Robert Ringer states... “friends come and go, but enemies accumulate!”
other words, if you plan to live and work on this earth for a long time,
it would only be in your best interests to think long-term. And treating
all people that you come into contact with in a long-term manner is
not only the “kind and human” thing to do, but it is the
only “smart and self-serving” thing to do.
By being concerned with long-term success, you avoid the very unpleasant, but real possibility that a person who was unfairly taken advantage of in a negotiation is “out there waiting!”
To achieve a win-win negotiation you must:
1) Avoid in most cases, people who will not consider barter, but only want to deal in cash.
What they are saying, in effect is, “we want your cash, but nothing else from you!” Like a labor union or fraternity, we trade exchange members must show solidarity in dealing with our “own kind” first, and by not rewarding “bad behavior” in dealing with cash sellers where barter sellers are available.
2) Research the facts, be ready and organized.
Preparation is one of the important keys to successful negotiating. You must have a clear idea of what your side must have to be a winner, and what tactics the other side will probably use. If you can’t answer these questions with substantial accuracy, the timing is not right for you to negotiate.
3) Show respect and courtesy to all parties at all times.
People are like elephants, they have long memories...and many will go out of their way to return abuse! Brian Tracy, a noted author, advises, “a person convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.” This will eventually translate into a scuttled mission or undertaking.
I am constantly amazed how owners and employees will make a barter customer feel like a third rate customer in relation to a cash customer. If you don’t like barter, get out of barter. But don’t make a person look bad in front of his family when he comes to your restaurant or other place of business.
4) Be a good listener and observer.
Find out the reason for the disagreement between you and the other side. Remember, there are generally two reasons given for everything in life, the good or noble-sounding reason, and the real reason! Put yourself in the “other side’s shoes.” Be empathetic. Try to determine what the true objectives of the other side are, and why they came to that conclusion.
example, the “why” is important because they may state they
are basing values on a Kelley Blue Book, but after looking into the
matter further, they may have been using an out of date appraisal guide.
And because of this, you can probably get them to move away from their
Every business needs a printer, florist, carpet cleaner, window cleaner, accountant, etc., etc. If you are not providing services to all of your venders, you can be sure someone else is...and reaping the benefits that you are not receiving. Make sure that you are a good “barter plumber” in that you stop all cash leaks where barter services are available!
5) Think value for value at all times.
Bring value to every trade and negotiation you do. Be quick to suggest things that your side can do for the other side that does not detract from your position. Then ask that they make a “like-kind” concession to you, as a “fair play” gesture. Most, but not all, people have a sense of fair play.
6) Negotiate and trade with the right person.
you are not talking with the right person (the person who has the authority
to make the decision) then you are talking to the wind!
7) Do not give away too much of your position at the beginning.
the other side state their demands first. Follow their demands with
a counter offer that is in the low range of being fair.
8) Know all your alternatives.
For example, if you need a painter for your house and you only know one person who can paint, and that person only takes cash for his services, then you are not going to be in as strong a position as someone who knows five cash painters and six barter painters. Are you prepared to walk away, and never come back?
9) Make sure your word is your bond.
You cannot accomplish anything with people if you are not taken seriously by them. Nothing will give you a black mark faster with your fellow negotiators than if you renege on a commitment.
10) Be very realistic about what you bring to the bargaining table.
Too often I find people negotiating from weakness, when their demands are either too high or too low.
A good example of this is when a person who wants to sell their house, asks a ridiculous amount for it. Then, because it never sells at that price, they make a substantial price decrease (attempting to bring it to fair market value) only to find potential buyers wanting to “low ball” it further, because they detect weakness.
11) Think long-term.
As an accountant, I have seen many businesses fail because they were only thinking in the short-term. For example, they might be experiencing a decent amount of cash business all of a sudden, so they immediately “pull the plug” on their barter customers, insulting them as they do it.
Then later in the year when their cash cycle dries up, they wish they had not burned their barter bridges...but it is too late.
I have found in many cases, that when a person has been treated rudely, he or she actually will go out of the way to try and help you fail. And for a business to be successful it needs an infinite amount of people wanting it to succeed; it cannot afford even one person in the community trying to help it fail.
12) Put the agreement in writing.
If the trade is large enough to involve an attorney, make sure that your attorney writes up the agreement, since he or she can craft it more to your interests.
If an attorney is not involved, the more details of the transactions that you formalize on paper, the better to avoid misunderstandings.
I’ve seen on numerous occasions a transaction that started out to be pure barter, then as the transaction wound to a close, the provider of the service or goods thought he would “try to get a little cash out of the deal” by informing the buyer that he is “broke,” or the terms of the deal were too onerous, or he wasn’t a member of the barter exchange anymore and demanded all cash!
In closing, and by way of analogy, think of bartering and its close cousin negotiations, as a big potluck dinner at which there are a lot of people who could be of great help to you (provide you with wonderful food, give you expert information, and offer you great networking opportunities).
But there are also people present who don’t think in the long-term. (They might bring a tiny salad, but they also bring five big kids to eat! They provide as little as they can to get by). There are others at the potluck who crowd in line to eat up all of the dessert before anyone else has a chance to begin the salad course.
For barter to be good for you, it must also be good for your trading partner. It does no good to get a great restaurant on trade this month, only to blow them out of trade next month because they were not able to spend their trade credits on a value for value basis.
You must put something into the system before you can get anything out. Sure you can attend a potluck and bring no food, and otherwise act rudely once. By doing so, you will have earned a justifiable black mark in the potluck and bartering community.
By following my twelve negotiating steps outlined in this article, thinking long-term, and treating people the way you would like to be treated, your barter and cash business should be highly supercharged for a long time into the future. Best of luck to you in all of your negotiations and bartering.
David Wm. Tuttle, Ph.D., CPA is the founding partner of Tuttle & Tuttle CPAs, located in Fresno, California. The firm specializes in tax matters, which include representing clients (who are either being audited or owe taxes they cannot currently pay) before the IRS, FTB, Board of Equalization, and Employment Development Department.
They also analyze their client’s tax debts with a view toward possibly discharging them through a chapter in the US Bankruptcy Code. To set up your appointment with Mr. Tuttle, please call (559) 291-5527.
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