I am, literally, begging you: 7 negotiating tips from the Apprentice


Walking out. Irrational behaviour. Cattiness. We saw it all last night in the third episode, focused on negotiation. Which negotiation & communication techniques did the luckless Apprentice candidates put into action in episode 3? IABC UK Board member Gay Flashman continues our light-hearted commentary.

Technique 1: Flutter your eyelashes

In a demonstration of feminine wiles that will surely take gender parity back a step or two, we saw the girls’ team offer to ‘marry’ the man selling crystal glasses; “je t’aime”, they added for good measure. I’m ashamed to say, it worked. They managed to practically steal the seven glasses from the avuncular Frenchman, with the price dropping from €200 to €45 in an instant.

Technique 2: The Charmer

“J’adore un petit prix”. Richard managed to use all of his charm to knock a measly 30p off the price of the cheese he was buying from a long-suffering cheese seller. Charm was in short supply amongst some of the apprentice contestants: “Vana clearly has some sort of issue with me” was just one of the catty comments emanating from the ‘girls’ team’.

Technique 3: The  ‘Nibble’ Technique:

Lawyer and negotiation guru Charles Craver writes that some negotiators can gradually drop the price paid by returning with incremental reductions. In the boat shop we saw Charleine achieve this with her bargaining on the anchor, which she negotiated down impressively from £20 to £12.50. Evidence from Charleine that it can be worth a speculative punt now and again: as she says, “I dropped in a little cheeky one”.

Technique 4: Walking out

In the boat shop again, to where the girls’ team returned a total of 4 times to discuss the inflatable boat on offer at an astronomical £250.  Elle might have walked out of the shop three times, but in the end she was limited by her options and was forced to reluctantly pay the inflated inflatable price of £200. The truth is, you can only use the ‘walking out’ trick if you have the balance of power in the negotiations.

Technique 5: Negotiate with the right person

Jenny gave up too early on her negotiations for mussels in a restaurant – she didn’t go high enough up the chain of command, and was stalled by the gatekeeper, in this case, a very polite waitress. Karren Brady rolled her eyes on camera; Jenny’s lack of gumption proved to be her fatal mistake. Remember to ensure you’re always negotiating with the person who has the power and authority to make a decision and be persistent.

Technique 6: Be ready to do a deal

At the other end of the dinghy spectrum we see Gary visiting a toy shop, pulling off a £10 purchase by having cash to hand, and a clear maximum of what he wanted to pay. It was a win for him, and for the smiling shop owner. But remember, keeping cash in your pocket might work at the market, but may not go down quite so well in the boardroom.

Technique 7: If all else fails… beg

The price for the mussels was £5.80 per kilo. Bergim’s approach:- “£5 and I’ll love you forever”. That didn’t work.

“I’m begging you.” He added.

Done deal; mussels in the bag.

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global  membership association with a network of 12,000 members in more than 80  countries. We deliver on the ​Global Standard ​in communication through educational  offerings, certification, awards programs and our annual ​World Conference.​ Follow  us on Twitter ​@iabcuk

Gay Flashman is a former journalist and experienced communications consultant.  Gay is CEO of ​Formative Content​, a UK-based agency providing high quality blog  content, live event coverage ​and social media content ​for clients around the world.

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