I used to buy vinyl records for an independent record shop. Not exactly sales, I know. However buyers have to be able to sell concepts as well as salespeople.
For instance, I was often called out to some record hoarder’s house to look at his second hand records with a view to persuading him that his vinyl collection might be worth somewhat less that the gold bars he had in his mind. There was no point in buying at the value he had in mind because any shop is a middleman between the manufacturer or the wholesaler – and the end user, the consumer. And retailers do need paid to …err… retail.
So I had a rough idea of what he had, and what we could sell them for. We had to be cheaper than any other store. Vinyl was a specialist market and the vinyl hunters were internet savvy. We might think a record to be worth £10 but if someone was selling the same record on eBay for £2.00 then we looked silly. We tried therefore to be 25% cheaper than the online “book price”, so to speak.
None of this was of great interest to the vinyl hoarder bringing down box after box of original Doors, Rolling Stones, Beatles LPs from his loft, or in some cases, up from his basement. These things had not seen the light of day for often decades and were tragically in various states of disintegration, covers being the first thing to succumb to damp.
So, I knew a negotiation was ahead. The key to negotiation is of course to work out in advance what you want from the negotiation. Sure, things change during the chat, but you have to have a plan. I knew I could not pay more than ex amount per LP no matter how shiny they were. But I needed records from somewhere for the weekend. So, I planned to get as many records as I could for a set amount of money and spend no more.
“I hope you’re not here to rip me off, son. I’ve checked these records out on the internet and they're worth £20 each.”
I thought about laughing out loud but upon reflection thought this might prejudice the negotiation. But I couldn’t proceed without confronting this obstacle immediately. To have left it unchallenged would have given the guy a false sense of security and the rest of the negotiation would have been a waste of everyone’s time. So, I countered with something I thought addressed the issue without insulting him.
“I’m sure you’ll have several records worth top dollar but I’m sure you’d agree that there’s always a mixture in any collection. But we’ll put “the screamers” (collectors’ items) to one side then look at the rest.”
“Are you not interested in the collectors items, then?”
“I am very interested in them mate. I just cant afford them.” I laughed as if laughing at my own inadequacy. This lightened the mood and the fun was only at my expense.
“I want to sell them all in one job lot, though.”
“Fair enough, but I’m sure you’ll see that once we separate the screamers you’ll agree that no collector of any note will buy the rest. Collectors never buy the non-collectables, obviously.”
He thought about this.
“So what happens to the rest of them, then?”
“I’ll have a pick through and offer you what I can afford, and you can laugh and then we’ll work something out, if you like?”
We separated the screamers from the rest. I suggested what the screamers were worth to me.
“Oh, I’d get double that online.”
“What? You're not disagreeing?”
“No. but then you’d have to find a Doors fan, a Stones fan, a Beatles fan, a Small Faces fan, etc etc. Then you’d have to deduct postage costs. Then you’d have to hope you do PayPal.”
“Then you have to hope they buy more than four at a time to make it worth postage. The hope they don’t send any back. Have you retired?”
“Err, no. I work.”
“So it’s a night time job for you, after a hard day’s work, and for usually around 6 months. See, retailing, which is what you’d be doing, takes time and money.”
“Okay, I get it. So, what will you offer if I throw in the collectables.”
I made an offer that was fair, rather than generous. About 25% of what we bought would not sell at all and the catch was you never knew which 25% exactly would not sell. So you built that 25% non-sale into the price.
The fellow accepted a slightly better offer after a wee bit of negotiation. But, that negotiation took place on equal terms.
Then he said he had a pal with a Beatles collection for sale and he’d recommend me.
“Now, that IS music to my ears!”
By Bob Smith who has worked in sales for more than 30 years, works as an experienced recruiter, trainer & motivator and is also a published author of both children’s and adult titles.