Chris Croft's Personal Blog

June 14, 2010

Avoid the nibble

Filed under: Negotiation Skills — chriscroft @ 10:59 am

The nibble is where someone adds something else to the deal AFTER you have agreed it. Things like “… and it’s another £40 for the feet” (a real nibble I experienced at DFS sofas) or “…and of course delivery is extra” would be nibbles.

Nibbles can be done by both the buyer and the seller. For example, with a house the buyer could say “You will leave those shelves won’t you” while the seller might say “We’re taking the magnolia, it was a wedding present, you don’t mind do you?”.

The nibble is dishonest because they are waiting till after the deal is done, deliberately, because it’s then too late to change it. And it’s effective because the item seems small compared to the overall detail, you’d almost be petty to object to it. You’re so pleased to have got the deal that you don’t mind the occasional detail being changed.

But hang on! Those shelves, or that magnolia, are worth £50! Don’t just give them away! So a good answer might be “Well in fact we really like the magnolia, it was one of the things we liked about the house, and we’ll have to replace it if you take it, and that will cost about £50. Would you like to give us the cash for it now? (holding out your hand). Or shall we take it off the price of the house?”

(Sales note – this is a tea or coffee close, giving them a choice of A or B. The nibble is an assumptive close – “you don’t mind do you?” – making it hard to say “Well actually I do”)

But what about the nibble that comes up when it’s too late? For example, the sofa feet, when you’ve already signed the cheque? Well, basically you have to be prepared to say “No, that wasn’t my understanding of the deal, they have to be included or the whole thing is off”. You HAVE to be prepared to walk away from the deal completely rather than let nibblers get away with it.

The other thing you can do, and the main point of this article, is to head them off at the pass by asking the question “Are there any extras I need to know about?” earlier in the negotiation. This question completely takes away their ability to nibble you later. Whether you are buying or selling, always ask it!

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