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Using the “Smashing Pumpkins” Negotiation Technique

Selling is easy.  Unless you are selling something ordinary, then it becomes work.  Negotiating is easy.  Unless you don’t hold all the cards, then it takes skill.

I assume that most domainers are like me.  We have domains that are probably classified somewhere between OK and good with a little bad thrown in.  We don’t have all the cards.  Most of the times we get an offer, they are names that people WANT to own but don’t HAVE to own.  Get greedy and they walk.  Get too eager and you leave money on the table.  Every time I get a bid it takes me back to 1990s and a funny “training” session I had with a guy I used to work with.

I the 90’s had a brief stint working with municipal bonds and providing customers with information about their “coupons” or payments.  Of course, the customers use to get on me when something went wrong.  Orange County goes bankrupt and they yell at me because they aren’t getting their payments.  I’m just a kid and resort to the yes sir, no sir method of dealing with the customers.   Then one guy a few years older than me and a real stoner, lets me in on HIS secret to dealing with customers and negotiation.   It’s the Smashing Pumpkins method.  It’s the 90’s in Chicago and there were two great things in Chicago, the Bulls and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Of course I had to ask.  “What’s the Smashing Pumpkins method?”  He explained it like this.

When you are trying to reach a resolution you use the tempo and rhythm of a Pumpkins song.  First you take it slow.  Relax,  enjoy the music, listen to the other person.  Take it all in.  Gather data.  Start slow.  After the listening you start to gather steam and introduce emotion.  You get a little angry and fight back.  Each response is a little more harsh, a little more emotion, and you start taking swings.  Even though it’s the customer you show them the passion that you have and that you are greatly invested in this conversation.  You tell them everything they’ve done wrong.  You knock them down, make them feel stupid, and then……..  you pick them back up.  You give in a little.  Slow it down, take this conversation home. You let them know how important they are and what a pleasure it’s been dealing with them.  Make them feel like they’ve won but really you’ve taken them on a journey and knocked them so far down that when they got back the upper hand they were actually 4 steps lower than they started. Just like a Pumpkins song.

I couldn’t help laughing when I heard this but he was serious. Not a huge Pumpkins fan I went home and listened to a few songs. I didn’t really find any songs that followed this strategy. They all seemed to open up soft, build, and then end.

Flash forward 15 years later. Every time I am dealing with someone, whether it’s a negotiation, a conflict, are just providing customer service, I seem to find myself thinking of this funny story and actually following this general formula. I start out polite and listen. I take in information, figure out who I’m dealing with. I then either turn into a dick or an extra friendly guy depending on the situation. Either way I take control of the situation by acting like I either care about this more than anything in the world or absolutely could care less, depending on the situation. If someone makes a bid on a domain, I could care less. If someone tries to negotiate a price down, I care more about that domain than anything I own. It was my great grandmother’s domain that she gifted to me on her last breath. But then I settle down. Give in a little. Conclude the conversation and wrap it up. Of course, it doesn’t always go like this and isn’t always that simple but I’m sure I’m the only guy in 2010 that actually still thinks about the Smashing Pumpkins.

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