The Art of Negotiating the Best Price for Your Boat

How to Improve Your Boat Negotiation Skills

There are many different ways to buy a boat, and some of these approaches and methods afford you the opportunity to negotiate a better price. While generic negotiation skills can certainly help you in this situation, you also need to understand the finer points of negotiating a boat price.

The Value of Preparation

Much of your success in negotiation is going to be contingent on your ability to prepare. The more time you spend researching key facts and details, the better your position in the negotiation will be.

  • Understand what you’re buying. Start by making sure you totally understand the boat you're interested in buying. Who is this manufacturer? What type of boat is this? And what makes this boat worth a specific price? What are other boats like this selling for? And what would make this type of boat worth more or less? Try to become a mini expert here.
  • Research the market. It's also a good idea to research the market. How have boats been selling, in general? In a market with lots of buyers and limited inventory, you won't have much room to negotiate. In a market with few buyers and tons of inventory, you'll have much more leverage.
  • Get to know the seller (if you can). If you have the opportunity, see if you can get to know the seller, either personally or as an organisation. This can help you understand what motivates the seller, how they think, and how they might be persuaded in the middle of the negotiation.
  • Practice. If you're not used to negotiating, or expressing yourself assertively, it pays to practice. Get a partner or practice in front of a camera to increase your chances of speaking competently and appearing confident.

Build Rapport

Many people treat negotiation as a kind of battle, but you'll likely be more effective if you treat it as a collaboration. To do this, you'll need to build rapport with the person you're negotiating with before you make an ask.

  • Focus on the relationship first. Building the relationship needs to be your first priority. Before you even start talking about the boat, or the price of the boat, make small talk and eliminate any tension that might be in the room.
  • Demonstrate your expertise. Showcase your expertise by talking about this boat and explaining your perspective on it. The more of an expert you seem to be, the stronger your negotiating position will be.
  • Present yourself confidently. The more confident you are, the better. Stand up and sit up with good posture, shake hands firmly, make eye contact, and be deliberate with your speech. If you show signs of insecurity or weakness, your negotiating leverage collapses.
  • Express a desire to cooperate. Your negotiation partner will be much more likely to work with you and agree to a mutually acceptable resolution if you first express a desire to truly cooperate. Make it clear that you want this to be a mutually valuable deal that both of you can be happy with.

Actively Listen

Active listening is one of the most important skills for negotiators. Letting the other person do the talking and asking critical questions can give you more information, which you can use in your favour. It's also a way to establish a healthier dialogue, setting a positive tone that can lead to better mutual results.

Start Low

One of the most commonly known fundamentals of negotiation is starting from a lower position. If you're willing to buy the boat for 15,000 pounds/dollars/euros, you might start by offering 13,000. This way, you have a higher likelihood of scoring an even better deal, and you'll give yourself wiggle room in case the seller wants to push you higher.

Make the Offer – and Justify It If Necessary

Once you've established rapport, you'll be ready to make an offer. Make the formal price offer as assertively as possible. If the other person doesn't accept your offer, or if they scrutinise it, be prepared to justify it with things like the following:

  • Comparable models. Are there similar boats as this selling for similar prices? If so, you'll have concrete evidence that this is truly a reasonable price to ask for.
  • Age/wear and tear. Older boats are typically associated with greater damage and higher maintenance needs. If you're concerned about the condition of this boat, you can justify offering a lower price.
  • Cosmetic issues. Cosmetic issues may be easily fixable, but they can seriously compromise the price of a boat on the market. If this particular boat has cosmetic issues, be sure to point them out.
  • Sale difficulty. Pay attention to how long this boat has been on the market. If it hasn't sold in several weeks, or several months, explain your perspective that this boat is worth less than the listed price.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

Negotiation is only going to work in your favour if you’re truly prepared to walk away. If the price climbs too high, or if your seller refuses to negotiate with you, walking away may be the best option. At this point is going to be different for everyone; it depends on your budget, the type of boat you're buying, and how much flexibility you were able to get from the seller. It pays to know your “walk away” point before you even enter negotiations.

Offer Flexibility and Creativity

There's no guarantee you and the seller will be able to reach a mutually agreeable decision, but the likelihood increases if you're willing to be flexible and creative in your negotiation problem solving. Be willing to offer unique changes to the deal to help close it.

Mastering the Art of Negotiation

At TheYachtMarket, we understand the finer points on buying and selling boats – because our whole job is bringing buyers and sellers together. If you’re in the market for a new boat, you can find both new and used vessels here. And if you’re ready to sell a boat, you can do that with us too; start the process today!

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