Getting ready for the inevitable wet winter, I took three pairs of winter shoes for repair.
As the guy at the counter told me the price, I said, “Oh, too bad I did not take the last receipt. You have a loyalty program, right? I´m a regular customer. Is there anything you can do about the price?”
I did not prepare the speech. In fact, I surprised myself by even saying it. It probably had something to do with the book on negotiating small steps I´d been reading earlier that day.
The shoe repair guy replied, “Well, we´ll do something about it.”
“Thank you, it´s nice of you.”
“But I can´t make the repair for free.”
Surprised to hear that, I quickly said: “I´m sure, and it´s completely up to you, I trust you will do what you can.”
He took 10 Euros off the price.
That’s ‘not much’, you may say. Well, it’s not bad, just for the asking, I say. The best part of it was the fact that we both seemed happy. Let’s get this straight, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression – normally, I don´t negotiate shoe repair costs. But there was something emotional at play here.
I subconsciously shifted the focus from the product of the negotiation (the price of repair) to the process (loyal customers collect stamps and getting a discount once they collect 6 of them). By doing so in a way that did not threaten the guy’s identity or pride – in fact, I acknowledged his decision power – and produced a surprising result.
How about you? Why don´t you sometimes shift the focus from the product to the process? Try it on the small stuff, the practice may prove invaluable once you find yourself amid the big number game.