Quoting with confidence: Lessons from the Discovery Channel

Quoting with confidence: Lessons from the Discovery Channel

Recently on my travels, while getting caught up with late night e-mails, I had the chance to view a show on the Discovery Channel called “Oddities.” The show, according to Wikipedia, “is a half-hour documentary/reality television program which follows the operation of an East Village, Manhattan, shop which trades in antiques and other rarities.”

What I learned, however, by watching the show is skills on negotiating. An episode that I saw had a person that had an antique surgical table, and the owners of the shop were looking to buy one for a customer (see the mortician customer on this YouTube video). When asked for his selling price, the customer responded, “I don’t know. I guess I was thinking about $150.” The shop owners quickly spotted a bargain and said, “We’ll offer $100,” and then they remained quiet. The seller, who was anxious to sell, immediately replied yes.  

What would’ve happened if the young man initially responded, “This table has been in my family for generations, it would be difficult to part with and the price is $150”? And what would’ve happened if he remained silent after quoting his price? The shop owners, realizing that they would make a substantial profit anyway, easily could’ve paid that price.

Years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Silence is Golden, and Sometimes Green.” It discussed the tendency of salespeople to want to keep talking to fill any quiet voids during negotiations, when truly the best thing to be is … quiet.