While I'm not the biggest fan of having to negotiate, I feel I'm pretty decent at it. I think maybe one of the most important aspects of successful negotiating is having good information. And with access to the Internet, there aren't many out there to say there is any lack of information. Be it a good or bad thing, the Internet has opened up a variety of avenues to pursue information gathering, and has in my opinion, changed the art of negotiating in certain areas and in certain ways. But it makes me wonder, has the Internet killed the art of negotiating, made it better, or just changed it?
These days there are so many buying options out there that as consumers, we can feel as if we have the upper hand. We don't necessarily have to play by the negotiating rules of the old days where the retail market was king, because now there are options like eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and a slew of other online and resale sites. In fact, I often start many of my searches when it comes to purchasing items on sites like eBay and Amazon.com since I can at least start to get pricing options there. While the products there might not always be exactly what I'm looking for, they can at least give me a general idea of what the market's going rate is for such items before heading into any sort of negotiating type situation.
While on the Internet, I can look for all sorts of information relating to the purchases that I'm interested in making. From reading reviews to looking at statistics regarding the product, pricing or market, there may be a variety of data and information available to help me in any negotiations I might make. Take for example one of the situations in which many of us find ourselves negotiating, buying a home.
- Real Estate -- With the help of sites like Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and others, I can find information relating to property tax rates, previously paid property tax amounts, estimated home values, previous sale histories, area demographics, school ratings and rankings, crime statistics, walkability, and all sorts of other information to help me not only make a more informed buying decision, but also to possibly help me in the negotiating process. But the Internet doesn't have to be a one-way street when it comes to negotiating in real estate. At the same time, as a seller, the Internet could help to increase competition among buyers and promote marketability to a much broader audience, again helping to bring in prospective buyers and increase competition.
- Buying a Car -- Similar to buying a home, purchasing a car could involve some negotiating as well. We've recently been contemplating buying a new car and have used the Internet to gauge vehicle prices not only of new vehicles but of used options as well. Knowing what's out there, what's selling in greater numbers or is inundating the market, being able to review owner reviews, see pricing points, get data from places like Consumer Reports, and generally increase our knowledge regarding availability can make our hand a bit stronger going into negotiations. Again though, the Internet can help balance the scales for vehicle sellers as well since they have the same information available to them and can use this information to more strategically price and market their vehicles based upon what the competition is doing.
Knowing the Opponent
Then there's the aspect of knowing the opponent. When it comes to a car dealership or a retailer, such things might not matter as much. But when negotiating a home deal or other deal with an individual or sometimes even a smaller business, sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media sites could provide telling information regarding an opponent in negotiations.
We've used such sites in home buying and selling negotiations to better learn about the people with whom we're dealing. From the type of jobs they have or have had to current living location, making income assumptions, and gleaning similar information, if people are willing to put such data out there, then they have to be prepared for the consequences of how it might be used against them in negotiating.
So while I think that the Internet has changed negotiating, I still feel it's a fairly even playing field for each side if both consumers and sellers are willing to utilize the power of the Internet to their advantage. I know I'm going to.
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