The art of asking a question to get the answer you want! It truly is an artform! One, that I’d like to think I tackled at the ripe age of seven after asking my Mom to let a friend spend the night and she said “We’ll see”! I was hopeful that those two words meant a surprise slumber party on a random Tuesday night! But to my avail, as I was gathering my favorite barbies and my hot pink nail polish, I learned “We’ll see.” meant NO! Not the answer I had hoped for. Mom knew best. It was a school night, after all. But at the time, I still couldn’t figure it out. Why didn’t she say yes? Did I not ask the question the right way? I knew I had to tackle the art of asking a question!
It wasn’t until my years as a Television News Reporter that I truly mastered the art of asking a question. Here’s the secret:
Ask for what you want.
Prep the person to say what you want them to say.
So here’s how it works in television… I’m interviewing organizers for the 127 World’s Largest Yard Sale. I ask “So, this yard sale is the world’s largest? It covers five states and 690 miles, right?” Now, what do you think their answer will be? Probably something like… “Yes, that’s right. It’s the world’s largest.” Does that work for the story I am putting together? No! I need them to say all the details about the ground the sale covers, not me! So, I restructure my question to ask, “So, this is the world’s largest yard sale? Really? Like THE largest in the world? How is that possible?!” Structuring the question like this forces them to prove a point. Their response will likely be “Oh yeah! It’s the worlds largest!! It covers five states and 690 miles! No other yard sale does that!!” BOOM! That’s the answer I wanted! Make sense? Great! Now, how do we apply this to yard sale shopping??
It’s tip #9 in my Top Ten Tips for Yard Sale Shopping!
So let’s set up a scenario to flesh this all out! Let’s say you spot the Vintage Delco Sign in the graphic above and you want it!! You know that it’s out of your budget with a price tag of $400 but you want to negotiate. The proper way to negotiate depends on WHEN you do it!
Middle of the Sale. Middle of the Day.
This would be your average negotiation. Let’s say your goal is to pay $250 for the sign. Be direct with your question and to the point. Don’t waste your time or theirs with questions like “Will you take less?” or “Are you negotiable on the price?” Bottom line. Everyone is negotiable if the price and timing are right. So, as long as you are not there at 6am on day one, you can be pretty sure that the seller will be willing to work with you. So, ask for what you want and have proof to back it up. Be reasonable. A good question to ask would be, “I see that there is one of these on Ebay for $200. Will you take $250 for this one?” Don’t be offensive. Let your question breathe. Don’t babble. Remember where babbling got me in the reporting scenario? A quick no. And that’s not what you want to hear.
Often negotiating is just that… a series of going back and forth. So if you feel like it is reasonable to start lower than what you want to pay, then do it! Ask “Can you do $200 cash on this sign?” Remember, money talks! And use your direct questions from there to get what you want. Will it always work? No. But never give up! You can always use this next tactic…
Beginning of the Sale. Beginning of the Day.
In my experience, here’s a succussful way to negotiate on Day One and not be offensive. The number one thing to remember is respect and the secret codeword! Those two things will set you up for a successful negotiation. Realize that unless it’s yard sale o’clock, you are not going to snag a huge discount early in the morning on the first day of the sale. It’s just not fair to the seller. And it’s not fair for you to ask. Instead, if you spot that Delco sign and you love it, negotiate for a deal if they still have it on the last day. Here’s what you can say: “I absolutely love this sign, but I realize that it’s the first day of the sale and $400 is a good price. If you still have it on the last day, could I come around 1pm and buy it for $250?” You may get lucky or you may not. I find that when I am selling, I love to have someone like this in my back pocket. Then I know, if I can’t get what I want for it, this person will buy it and I don’t have to haul it home! If the negotiation works out, exchange a phone number or email address so you can be in touch. And make sure you know where the sale is, write it down, so you can find it later!
End of the Sale. End of the Day.
This is the absolute BEST time to negotiate!! Often sellers will offer a better deal without you asking! They want the stuff gone!! And if you have that open-mind, we talked about, this is when you can really rack up!! Remember the same direct and to-the-point questions. “Will you take X for this?” Start a stack! Ask the seller if you buy several things, if they will work out a deal! Nine times out of ten they will, especially on the last day!! If you like almost everything they have… offer them a price for all that’s left!! You may end up with a few things that you don’t like, but you can donate those in exchange for the deals you got on everything else! A couple big ticket items can also get you a deal. If you spot another large metal advertising sign, in addition to the Delco one, offer $400 for both! Having cash for large ticket items is key! A lot of peple will be all spent out by the last day and not have enough cash for big ticket items!
Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
If you truly do not want to pay more thn $250 for the Delco sign, then don’t! Don’t be afraid to walk away. It’s not the end of the world. And often walking away is what it takes for a seller to believe that you truly are not going to pay more. If you hear that faint voice call you back as you walk away, you’re in! But if you don’t you still won, because you did not pay more than you wanted to!!
You Won’t Always Win and That’s Okay!
I am often on both sides of this process, so I feel like I understand both the seller and the buyers standpoints. Yes, the seller is looking to make a profit. But the buyer also wants a good deal. Often, there is a happy medium where both people walk away happy. And sometimes you run across yard sales where they are not looking to make a profit. They just want to clean house. Those are good sales to negoatiate, but don’t take advantage. If you plan to yard sale a lot, people will get to know you. You don’t want to be know as THAT girl! Like I said before, just be RESPECTFUL! It goes a long way!!
Here’s to asking the right question to get ya that Tuesday night slumber party… or a vintage sign for $250!!
Looking for more Yard Sale Tips… you can start at the beginning by CLICKING HERE!
Or you can click on any image below to take you to that specific post!!
Happy Yard Sale Shopping!!
Until next time, let us remember..