Insider: Artful Maneuvers – How we Speak

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Today I have a couple of small topics to cover. First I want to dive into they way we speak to one another. There have been a large amount of articles written on personal conduct at tournaments and treating each other with respect. These are important articles that remind us how to remain a good tight-knit community.

I highly enjoy, and encourage, reading these from time to time, but this is not an article like those. Instead, I'd like to focus on speaking in a manner that encourages our customers to buy from us.

I once long ago read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend anyone who runs their own business or works in customer service read this book.

Among all of the Imageamazing advice in this book is one point that stands out given our goals in the finance community. Mr. Carnegie writes about bringing up ideas and suggestions to people as if the idea were their own. He asserts that any suggestion or idea is much easier to swallow or even like if one believes that they were the one who thought it up in the first place.

Think about it, we all like to think that our ideas are better than other people's ideas. This deck is better because I thought of a combo that you didn't. This card should be of higher value, but nobody else seems to have figured out its true power. We can use that view point to our advantage and play to it.

Let's say your trade partner is looking to fill out his Merfolk deck. Some of his card choices are less than optimal, but he has some amount of budget to spend (be it in high value cards or cash). Instead of pointing out bluntly that Merrow Reejerey is a much better choice than Merfolk Looter, you could say something like "Am I correct in thinking these Looters are placeholders for Merrow Reejerey? I think I have a playset to trade..."

The delivery of the verbal assumption here is key. This is not a sarcastic statement, but one that is a matter of fact. We do not want to offend our trade partner. Remember that this deck was their idea and anything said about it (good or bad) will be taken personally. Some would consider this a small difference, after all both statements make the same point. The difference is an important one though. Rephrasing the original suggestion allows them the opportunity to continue the conversation, or turn you down with an explanation on their own terms. In short, you have not put your customer on the defensive.

I cannot stress how useful this can be. The way we speak to our customers and trade partners is the single most important part of our business. If you are pleasant to deal with, and encouraging to those around you then repeat business will beat a path to your door. People who enjoy doing business with you are also more likely to allow those throw-ins and small price differences to go in your favor. They will refer you to their friends.

Most importantly though, if we treat each other pleasantly and with respect we won't have to have so many articles written on how to make the Magic community a better place. It will already be one.

Closing the Deal

Not a bad name for a column, but I have to imagine it is taken...

There is one other part of dealing with customers that I must address. When I look around trade tables and even in my own trades there is one piece of education that seems most lacking. Nobody seems to know how to close a deal properly.

This ignorance causes some of us to waffle unnecessarily about insignificant price differences. I've seen some people come off too strong, sounding as though they must make the trade or Wizards of the Coast will send their assassins to kill us all. Both of these behaviors make me think that some people are afraid to close the deal. I think it may come from the fear of being labeled a "shark" and all of the negative that comes with that label.

As we all know, time is the only assest that we have that cannot be acquired. So why are we wasting it haggling over the price of a gumball? When you are ready to make a deal at the trading tables just follow these steps.

1. Repeat the terms. Name all of the cards you are trading away and all of the cards you are trading for.

2. Ask for the sale. "I'm happy with this if you are," or "Do we have a deal?", or "Sound good to you?" are all acceptable.

If the answer is yes then you are all set; if not...

3. Alter the deal in a way that is favorable to both parties, then go back to step 1. If your partner is unwilling to, or nervous about trading one of the cards in the proposed deal, remove it (and the corresponding cards in your pile) and offer the smaller deal.

If the answer is still no...

4. Politely remove yourself from the trade. There is no harm or shame in walking away from a trade. Time is money, and there are too many other people to trade with to waste time with just one person. Additionally, the key to any bargaining strategy is the willingness to walk away. It is your best chip, and if they want your cards they won't let you do it.

A lot of sales training will tell you to ask for three "no" answers. I think in our case this crosses over from, "I really want that card," closer to, "I will have that card if I have to follow you to the parking lot." Well, maybe not that strong but this is where I feel people are labeled as sharks. Despite our best manners, many people will feel pushed if asked about a specific card too many times. So be mindful of how you propose your trade. You only have a couple of chances.

The ability to walk away without any of their cards gives you great leverage. Even the idea of a trade partner packing up and trading nothing creates the fear of loss in traders. I'm sure we all know this feeling well. For those unfamiliar with the thought process it goes like this: "That guy has a Misty Rainforest that I need. If I he walks away it's possible that I wont see another one today. Maybe if I throw in that foil he has been talking about..." Avoiding acting on that feeling puts you in the driver's seat of any trade.

That's it for this week. Next week I will turn back to altered cards before covering more business strategy with you. I would like to know if you like the new business oriented track, so let me know in the comments.

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