Watch out for ‘Nibblers’ when negotiating …

Nibbling is one of the negotiating techniques I use frequently and with great success and especially when I am buying something of some significant value. It is also likely to be a technique that has been or will be used on you in some form or another. Here is one example of how I have used ‘nibbling’ in the past to secure some significant savings and to illustrate how the technique works.

Some years ago, I was considering investing in a holiday home in Portugal. It was a modest little villa being built on a private estate overlooking the sea. A luxury gym and health spa was also being built on the site which, according to the developer’s literature, residents could have access to for fifty per cent of the normal (substantial) annual membership fee. I deliberately chose not to mention this in any of our conversations and negotiations.

After several meetings with the developers negotiating the price, the quality and design of the various fixtures and fittings that were to be included, and numerous other points, I was finally ready to sign the contract. So there we were, my wife and I, sitting in the developer’s office. You could see the look of relief on the faces of the Sales Director and his second in command now that the negotiations had finally come to an end. What they did not know was that I had one nibble up my sleeve.

The sales director placed the contracts neatly on the table, whilst his second in command was pouring out four glasses of cold white wine to toast the conclusion to the deal.  I sat down in front of the paperwork, picked up the pen and held it close to the point where I was to sign. I paused, looked up and said “This does include free lifetime membership of the gym and health spa doesn’t it?” (Silent Close).

There was a lengthy silence and you could see by the non-verbal exchanges taking place between them that the last thing they wanted to do was to start negotiating with me all over again.  After a short while, the Sales Director said, “Mr King, it does not, but providing you promise not to mention it to any other investor, we’d be happy to include that, just for you and your wife.”

“Thank you”, I said. “If you’d just write that in on the contract just here and initial it, I can sign and we can all sit down and enjoy that glass of wine”. That nibble saved me a considerable sum of money every year and gave us both a great deal of pleasure.

Nibbling is likely to be used on you frequently, and by knowing it can happen, you are at least prepared. If the nibble is not acceptable to you, don’t agree to it. I would certainly have gone ahead with the purchase of that villa, irrespective of whether I got the free lifetime membership or not, as I would have gone ahead with many other major and minor purchases in the past if my nibble had been turned down.

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