Finding a Christmas tree bargain


I put my hands in my pocket, stood up tall, and told the salesman to take or leave my final offer. I wasn’t going to go any higher.

My wife and our three kids were hunting for a Christmas tree and off to one side of the small farm, we found the perfect Douglas Fir that we all seemed to like. The salesman muttered something about having to talk with his father, but when he saw that I was already starting to open my car door to leave, he caved in.

“You know, we’ve been busy today, let’s make a deal,” he said. “Let me cut the bottom and get it bound and up on your car.”

Or so I wished. In my head, I stood my ground and made the salesman come to my terms.

In reality, the salesman gave us a price. My wife and I looked at each other with an “oh it’s a little steep look,” but we both wanted to get back home with the tree to get it up in our house and would have caved in right on the spot.

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Fortunately for us, he saw our look and asked if we had been there before. When we said that we had bought a tree from the farm the previous year, he cut another $15 off the price.

We, of course, walked away with the tree. We placed the tree in our living room, strung up lights and will decorate it with ornaments when our kids are all home.

Becoming a killer salesman

Even with all that, I’ve been thinking about the interaction over the past few days. I’ve been re-playing the discussion in my head and considering how I might have been able to use my influence and persuasion skills to negotiate a better deal.

You’ve seen the book titles online and in bookstores: Secrets of Closing the Sale; How to Win Friends & Influence People; Bargaining for Advantage, etc., etc. I could go on and on with related titles.

I have to influence coworkers and clients in my job all the time. I find that in that role, I’m actually pretty good at it. I’m able to take myself out of the situation, put my client or department first, and do what needs done.

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Running from homelife hassle 

When it comes to home though, I’m not much of a negotiator. I just don’t want the hassle. I don’t like a car price, I’ll go to another salesman. Strangely, I’m convinced that it still works in our favor.

In the case of the tree, we put up little fight, but we got the tree at a reasonable price. I attribute that in large part to plain dumb luck and just being nice to the guy. Yes, I could have put on my “game face” and certainly would have if I thought the tree farmer was trying to take advantage of us, but I didn’t have time for it.

In the end, we made out pretty good. Now if I could just negotiate with my kids to help clean up the house so we can finish decorating the tree, then I’ll truly be a great negotiator and will be in the Christmas mood.

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