Children are good negotiators. They know that 'no' means 'maybe', do not give up easily, and ask for more than they want.

They do not take "No" for an answer

Kids demand to know "Why". If they move past the parental "Because I said so", they may overcome the objection. The adult equivalent words in the sales negotiation context are, "Tell me about it." This phrase opens the door to frank communication and dislodges the 'No' answer.

They are persistent and creative

A rejection merely whets their creativity. On my 8-year-old daughter Brie's annual Girl Scout cookie sale, a neighbor said that she had already bought. Brie countered, "The thin mints are especially good as frozen treats". As the neighbor reconsidered, my budding sales pro added, "They are great for snacks when guests arrive." The neighbor bought three boxes, and I relearned an excellent lesson.

They listen and they ask the "What if" question

Since kids hear 'no' as 'maybe', they relish the opportunity to convert 'no' to the 'yes' column. For instance, Brie asked, "what if I do tomorrow's homework today? Then Allison and I can go to the mall until dinner." While it would annoy a buyer if we were to continually ask 'why', we refine it to the "What if" question to reach the same result. For example, "What if we were to extend the price protection? Would that seal the deal?"

They do not use tentative language

Brie's "What if" question closes in the affirmative. Confidence precedes the sale. They use optimistic terms and avoid tentative language that might invite denial.

Their enthusiasm pumps up the customer

Dressed in her Girl Scout vest, Brie enthusiastically expected to close every sale. After introducing herself and the cookies, she asked the closing question, "How many boxes do you want today?" She had the order sheet and the pen in hand. When sales professionals lose enthusiasm, it tells the customer that there is no compelling reason to buy.

They use High Initial Demands (HID) to their advantage

Kids train their "customers" by presenting HID. A friend's daughter told her horrified father that she wanted a nose ring. He tried in vain to persuade her of the hygienic and sociological risks. Predictably, she burst into a tirade of how she would be scarred for life without such a fashion statement. Caving to relentless pressure, her dad compromised on his daughter's 'reluctant' concession that she get pierced ears instead. To reward her wisdom, and relieve his guilt, dad threw in a pair of earrings. On the way out the door, she winked at me and whispered, "Wow, all I really wanted was pierced ears, but I got earrings too." Unskilled adult negotiators reject HID in a naïve attempt to save time and effort. Kids know better.

Kids can teach us many lessons about negotiation that we have forgotten as we matured. We can lean much from their natural negotiation skills.

Author's Bio: 

Robert Menard, Certified Purchasing Professional and Certified Professional Purchasing Consultant, is a purchasing & sales negotiation expert and author of "You're the Buyer - You Negotiate It!" He serves clients worldwide through professional purchasing, consulting, and negotiation roles.

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