I conducted an experiment in image over the long weekend, and the results were quite intriguing.
Perhaps we could all learn from my experience, or at least apply the outcome to society and draw some conclusions of our own.
Those who know me best would suggest that the following story is without a shred of exaggeration…
I might be in the market for a new car in the next couple of weeks, and while I don’t consider myself a “car person,” I’ve certainly done my fair share of research to help my eventual decision.
People love to use the proverb of the “used car salesman” in many walks of life, and as such, I tried valiantly to avoid having to deal with the sales-speak, deceit, bartering, glad-handing, and all around frustration of dealing with car dealerships.
I negotiate for a living in my line of work; being a real estate agent, and it means that the last thing I want to do in my spare time is have to emulate my “on-field” persona.
But this past weekend, I put all that aside.
I got up on Saturday morning and put on my best suit and tie. I rarely wear suits, but this day was to be “special.”
I went and got a Starbucks even though I despise those expensive latte-concoctions, and placed my Bluetooth on my ear.
I pulled up to BMW Toronto and entered through the front doors making as much noise as I could with my loudest “clip-clopping” dress shoes. I pretended to be talking on my Bluetooth like one of those annoying, arrogant people we see more and more of every day.
I made sure to interrupt the head receptionist as I announced, “I’d like to speak with somebody in new car sales,” and then went back to my phony phone-call.
Within minutes, they had their best salesman come down to meet me. I made him wait as I summed up my phony phone-call while giving him that, “Sorry, duty calls” look with my eyes, and then finally hung up and took off my Bluetooth.
Before he could say a word, I extended my hand and announced, “David Fleming, it’s a pleasure.”
He told me his name was Alberto, and before he could utter another word I said, “Alberto – do you have a card?”
“But of course, Mr. David,” he said, already sucking up to me.
He took a card out of his back pocket while I withdrew my leather business-card holder that I never use, but with the panache of Patrick Bateman in the movie American Psycho, I slowly handed him my business card and said, “My card.”
I put my arm on Alberto’s shoulder while taking a sip from my Starbucks coffee, and began my spiel.
“Alberto, here’s my situation, are you with me?”
“But of course,” he replied.
“I’m looking at a used 2006 BMW 325 XI from a friend-of-a-friend who owns a car lot in Mississauga. They’ve offered this to me for $25,000 which is about $3,500 below the blue-book value, wouldn’t you agree?”
I went on with my rant while ensuring that Alberto couldn’t get a single word in, and basically told him that I was looking for an even better deal, and if he could provide me with one, I’d drive a car off their lot today.
I spent a half-hour with Alberto going over facts & figures, and he struggled to keep his composure after he asked about financing and I announced, “I’ll be paying cash.”
I was one step from putting my feet up on Alberto’s desk, as he punched away on the keys of his computer.
I left his office twice to make pretend phone calls, all the while keeping up the image of the successful, busy, laissez-faire young man, and finally Alberto told me he had something for me.
“I think you’ll like this,” he said as he prepared to print off a spec-sheet.
I had spent more than an hour with Alberto, acting the part of the “take no prisoners” business man who could simply not be beat in any negotiation, but I hit him with one final magnetic blow.
“Alberto,” I quietly asked, “Do you know what I’m going to do with that sheet when you print it off? Why don’t I tell you…..I’m going to take that sheet to every other BMW dealership in the city and simply ask them ‘Can you beat this?’ Alberto, I don’t give a sh!t who gets this sale, or who gets the commission. I’m after the best price, and I’ll stop at nothing to get it. Do you follow me?”
Alberto submitted a sheepish smile and quickly pressed the “ESC” key on his computer.
He fuddled with the keys a bit more, then printed off a sheet and went upstairs to get a signature from the top dogs.
When all was said and done, he offered me a 2009 BMW 325 XI for $49,800.
Later that afternoon, I went to Parkview BMW.
Only this time, I wore jeans, a t-shirt, and my old McMaster University windbreaker.
I told the girl at the front that I’d like to speak with somebody about “cars,” and after ten minutes, a pudgy, 20-something young man with an awful goatee approached me.
His name was “Dwight.”
I acted somewhat coy, but still told Dwight that I’d like the best deal he could give me on a 2009 BMW 325 XI.
This time around, I let Dwight do all the talking, and when all was said and done, he offered me the car for $58,500, and said that was his “rock bottom” price.
The “rock-bottom” price was almost $9,000 higher than the quote I had received earlier that morning while acting like Ben Affleck in Boiler Room.
So what can we take away from this experiment, other than the unfortunate truths that we let image and prestige dictate how we view people in society?
Well, I think the results of this experiment could be applied to almost any industry or situation out there.
And as for the real estate industry?
When you hire a Realtor, you are benefiting from their experience, knowledge, and skill.
Would you call “negotiating” a skill?
Whether your Realtor is aggressive, tenacious, intelligent, charming; and whether their negotiating tactics are annoying, insensitive, brutish, or passive-aggressive and laid-back, what matters is results.
I have signed up three listings in the past month, and all three sellers asked me about a reduced commission. Some mentioned it in passing, while some made serious noise about it.
I told all three of them the same thing: I am a full-service agent working at a full-service brokerage. I am the best at what I do, and they simply shouldn’t settle for less.
Speaking with one seller about his $350,000 condo, he asked me why the exact same units had sold for $338,500 and $340,000 in the past month. I told him it was 100% due to the agents listing the property.
If a Realtor from Brampton trying to work in downtown Toronto or a Realtor for a crummy brokerage such as (insert name here) is selling a condo, they don’t care about that final $10,000 for their sellers. That $10,000 represents exactly $250 in additional commission for them, and they’ll never feel that lost $10,000.
They simply won’t work for it; they just don’t care.
But some of us don’t see it like that.
As a seller, negotiating a 4% commission instead of the traditional 5% on the sale of your home might save you $2000 – $3000, but that Realtor who was so quick to accept a reduced commission isn’t going to go the extra mile, and it will cost you $10,000.
That Realtor is the jeans, t-shirt, and McMaster University windbreaker guy who receives the $58,500 quote on a BMW.
As a seller, you want somebody working for you who will do whatever it takes to get you every penny possible for your condo, even if it means dressing up like an ass with a cup of Starbucks and a Bluetooth to project an image and persona that will get that same BMW for $49,800.
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well so too is image…