Negotiating: how to make friends anywhere.
We went to Marrakech, where the Souks operate through negotiation. You can buy rugs, chessboards, lamps, tea kettles, bracelets, chickens, sesame rolls, shoes – thousands of items.
I – being a 6-foot-3 white guy – stick out in these souks. It also doesn’t help that I wore western attire. The shop owners assume correctly that I speak English, and they use it as if they are speaking in code. “Hello my friend!” They say, which makes me turn and immediately realise I shouldn’t have turned.
Winning a negotiation here is defined by how well you can say “no!”.
It is also about anchoring.
After some research, Meg discovered that whatever the first offer, reduce it by 90%. A lamp for 600DHM? Start at 60. (I started at 20, but this wasn’t the way to go – apparently it is disrespectful to go below 90%).
So they anchored at 600DHM (about £50) for a lamp, and asked “Is this fair?”
After about 10 minutes of negotiating on the price, size, weight, other items, shining the unit, what it looked like lit up, we settled on 220 (£18).
Up until this time, we were “enemies”. It was us against them.
But then, a funny thing happened: I asked for a photo.
At first they were excited because we wanted a photo in their shop! But when I asked them to be in the photo, they were even more excited.
We had become friends – if even for a few minutes.
Then we had to buy a tea kettle. So we found a good shop (clean, lots of choices), and started negotiating. It was a game – to us and to them. At the end, he even gave us cleaning instructions.
Here is an audio version.
These guys had a business to run, had sold us something, and we had shown some respect by paying on an agreed price and then requesting them to be in a photo of us. I doubt unit itself is worth £50, but the experience was priceless. One guy even requested to be my friend on facebook – “Yussuf Marrakesh”. Great guy, tough negotiator, buy all of your Moroccan tea kettles from him.