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Practical Negotiating: Tools, Tactics & Techniques by Tom Gosselin

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Power in Alternative Sources

In beginning a negotiation, you must first determine your basic needs—not what you want but the need that must be satisfied. The first mistake in negotiating is to equate needs and wants. For example, you want a new car—a Honda Accord. There are a number of dealers who handle this car. There is no sole source, so you can be confident that you do not have to take the first deal. However, think about how many more options you have if you consider your real need. If the need is reliable transportation, would fixing your old car be an alternative? How about other models or a used car?

Determining alternative sources of supply is the first step in discovering your power. Even if you are in love with a specific make, model, color, and design, there are other new cars you could select. You might even consider a used car. Is the status quo an option? Do you really “need” a new car? What is the problem that purchasing a new car solves? Reliability? Status? Step back a moment and focus on the real need. The underlying need could be as simple as reliable transportation. When reduced to this elemental term, we can expand the list of alternatives even further—using public transportation, riding a bicycle, roller-blading, car-pooling, or driving a motorcycle. What steps could you take to make the status quo a more viable option?

In a similar fashion, the car dealer has alternatives as well—other customers who might purchase the same car you want. Consider the situation ...

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