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Negotiating a car deal

Kelly Brown (R) helps Saul Scherl shop for a Jeep at a car dealership.
Kelly Brown (R) helps Saul Scherl shop for a Jeep at a car dealership.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Are you in need of a car and don’t know where to start your search? Never negotiated a big deal, and scared of the unknown. “While even the word negotiation can evoke fear, stress, and anxiety for many, the intent is quite simple.” Before you discuss and agree on a deal, do your homework.

There are rules to negotiations and veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think like a Negotiator” indicates there is a win-win proposition for all parties.

During an interview with Eldonna, she provided excellent points regarding car negotiations.

Q. How to build your confidence?

A. Confidence comes from the inside. I call it your “inner game” How to develop your inner game for negotiation and build confidence? First work on any blocks or limiting beliefs you have about your abilities which may mean looking at things that happened in the past to hinder your belief in yourself or belief about your value. Next, do negotiation. You can’t flip a light switch to be a good negotiator, you have to do it. That doesn’t mean go into the car dealership as your first negotiation. Go to some yard sales, swap meets or retail stores and start haggling. If it feels uncomfortable, keep doing it until you feel more comfortable with it. It will be a learning experience and your confidence will grow from those experiences.

Q. When do you know the deal is negotiable deal?

A. Everything is negotiable when you think like a negotiator. It may not be an instant win and may take some time to craft a deal or you may have to have a counter proposal to the original deal. In the end be willing to walk away if it just doesn’t sit right in your gut.

Q. Whose sale pitch should you believe?

A. You should only believe the pitch if you have researched the facts and know them to be true. Verify everything; don’t take someone’s word for it. Ask questions, ask for written proof of claims, and go in with some research under your belt already. I went into a dealer once to negotiate a truck. I did my research on the market value, drove the truck and then did some more research. I made an offer lower than the asking price and they took it. I was upset with myself because they took it right away! I didn’t go low enough to get into a good negotiation. I’ve had that truck for 12 years though, good investment and the value was still good.

Q. How do you get what you want?

A. You get what you want by asking for it. If you get told no ask again or find another way to ask. People say no 3 times before they say yes so be ready to overcome the objections and get to a yes.

Q. How do you organize your thoughts so that you don’t talk your way into a dilemma?

A. Again this goes back to preparing in advance. Also make sure not to talk too much. Remember to stop talking and let them talk. You will learn a lot about their position based on what they say. If you feel you are going down the wrong path call a recess. They don’t want you to leave so don’t let them pressure you into a decision. Remember in the end if you think of it as a game, it takes some of the pressure off.

Q. What do you consider when signing the contract?

A. Make sure you have read ALL the terms and conditions and asked questions about anything you don’t understand. Get all agreements into the document, don’t let them say “oh yeah we can do that too” without having them put it in the agreement. It’s much more difficult to modify an agreement once it’s been signed.

Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally. She is available to do speakers trainings, and full day workshops.

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