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Beware the something-for-nothing offer

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

59 Incentives and Trojan Horses

Offering incentives is a common business tactic. An incentive is an offer of special extras, something more than the original deal on the table, to induce the other party to buy, sell, cooperate, sign a contract, etc. Incentives play on the human desire to get something for nothing, or at least to get a better deal than you bargained for. Incentives include discount pricing, special offers, delayed payment plans, lowered interest rates, bonus gifts, “two for the price of one,” and so forth. But the business world is full of fake incentives, empty promises, and deceptive enticements designed to relieve you of your hard-earned money. Promises of “free” goods, services, and gifts, of “special offers” “at no extra cost” “with no strings attached” are common business, advertising, and negotiating strategies. Most apparent generosity in the business world is a calculated strategy to create in the potential client or customer a sense of obligation and connection, that feeling of indebtedness and gratitude that comes from an innate sense of fair play and reciprocity. Many apparent incentives are Trojan Horses, gifts that contain hidden strings and costs beneficial to the giver and detrimental to the recipient.

The Trojan Horse is one of the most common and effective sales techniques. It plays on the basic human desire to get something for nothing, the hunger for the mythical deal that is “too good to be true”. But, unless you’re homeless in a soup kitchen, there’s no free lunch. And as has often been said, a deal that looks too good to be true probably is. So when you hear of “special offers,” “free gifts,” or “dramatically lowered prices,” look for the hidden strings and costs that are likely to be there.

Business people generally give gifts to clients and offer incentives to customers knowing that the return later on will exceed the original expense of the gift. The use of gifts and incentives can be valuable if used in good faith, and with subtlety. But Trojan Horses, unethical deceptions, and cheap tricks will tend to backfire in the long run.


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