Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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by Gary Moon and Kevin Hogan

GM: Ask

Ask, ask, ask.

Ask politely.

Ask intelligently.


KH: I stood in line to meet Dottie Walters (she worked for Norman Vincent Peale) then went on to build what may have been the largest speakers bureau in the world). I finally got to talk with her. I was last in line. That is the guy who usually takes the most time and gambles on the celebrities exhaustion vs. any ancillary benefits that could come from being the last person in the room.

I told her I had been getting paid $2000 per speech for the last two years. (1998) I felt I was a lot better than that. I asked her how to go from $2000 to $5000. The tiny power house of an elderly woman looked up into my eyes and said, Just ask honey, they love you. Just ask.

Why was I stupefied?

Typically short little sound bite answers are useless. This one was not.

The very next time I got a phone call from a meeting planner I told the planner my fee was $5000. He had to check his budget but called back a few days later agreeing to the $5,000.

After that it never bothered me to raise my fee when I felt the value to fee equation kept growing geometrically.

Kevin HoganI never worked for $2,000 again. My income more than doubled the very next year. Doubling an income is a very good thing. Better? You do not have to double just once. If you ask and you provide the value, you can double it again, and again!

Sometimes making more money is the answer.

Sometimes saving money is the answer. Gary Moon is one of the best negotiators and most reliable people I know which is why I asked Gary to write this book with me. He helped me on several occasions in negotiations which I will share with you throughout the book.

GM: Just about everything in life Is negotiable.

Everything (except your health) is negotiable if you learn how.

I am amazed at how many people complain about almost everything in their lives…BUT they are never willing to do anything to change it.

On a regular basis I hear people say, what are arguably funny when you realize that a simple negotiation could resolve any of them.

My job doesn’t pay me enough.

I can’t believe how much the dealership charged me replace my water pump.

I know the guy at the rental car company screwed me over.

When I hear these kinds of statements I always ask the person the obvious question in a gentle way,

Have you asked for a raise?

Did you ask the dealership if there were after market parts available that would lower your bill?

Did you ask the Enterprise representative if that was the lowest rate they had available?

Inevitably, the response I get back is somewhere in the ballpark of, “No, I could never do that! I would be embarrassed to say/ask something like that.”

Then I do NOT say what I am thinking which is, Okay. Then quit complaining. Because, yes you can ask/say something like that in the future and your life is going to change! For you, you would rather complain, moan, and cry about how you’re always being ripped off. You’re not being ripped off…you’re ripping yourself off.

This past summer I needed a new roof for my home. My neighbor (who has approximately the same size home that I do) also needed a roof. He told me that he paid almost $12,000 for his roof!

I was so glad I now had an idea what a roof could cost before I called a roofer!

There was no way I was going to pay $12,000. Ridiculous!

KH: Let me guess. You went online and figured out how much the shingles and nails would really cost. You added in the number of days it took the three roofers to put his roof on and did some basic math?

OK, what did you spend? $9,500?

GM: I paid $5,500 for the new roof on my house.

KH: You know what is great about NOT spending an extra $6,500? That $6,500 is ALL AFTER TAX MONEY. That means you would have needed another $11,000 of income to pay for the extra $6,500.

This is what people never think about.

Saving money is important! Saving money is money in the pocket and you never have to pay taxes on it. Not a penny.

So you paid $5,500 which must have been a lot more than just a good feeling!?

GM: My neighbor paid more than double what I paid. Why? Because he didn’t negotiate. He didn’t ASK. He didn’t ask for a better price. He didn’t ask the roofer how he (my neighbor) could help him (the roofer).

Win/Win. istockphoto/viviamoHe didn’t make it a win/win. He decided that he would just pay whatever he was asked to pay.

Me, I asked several important questions to get to that $5,500.

1. “Is this the best possible price you can quote me?”

2. “What are the best materials available that cost the least amount of money?”

3. “Would you be willing to give me a discount if I refer you and your business to my friends and family.”

That’s why I saved over $5,000 on my roof. I asked.

Power of QuestionsKH: A question that would be worth experimenting with would be, If I bring you a client before you are done with my roof, would you knock an additional $500 off the price?

My guess is that the faster we can help the roofer, the more likely he will be to reduce our price.

GM: In a sense we are negotiating ever day whether we want to admit it or not. When you buy your new smart phone, sign up for cable/satellite television, buy a new/used car, buy/sell your home…you CAN and SHOULD BE negotiating. Even when you are asking that certain someone out on a date or to marry you…you really are negotiating.

If you want something in life you have to ask for it. Remember when you were a small child and you would ask Santa for the latest, greatest, most amazing toy that you had your heart set on? You asked. When you sat on Santa’s lap you probably asked politely. “Santa, I would like and official Red Ryder, carbine action, two hundred shot range model air rifle.” You probably also threw in a couple of “pleases” and “thank yous”.

Here is what might be a revelation.

You were asking politely.

You were also asking intelligently.

You were asking the RIGHT PERSON.

It boggles my mind how many people ask the wrong person in almost every negotiation.

You knew like you knew that you knew that the man in the big red suit could deliver that to you. You were not asking your three year old brother Harold for the gift because you knew there was absolutely no way that Harold could get you what you wanted.

KH: Gary, this summer I needed my lawn service to do a special weed treatment. I have a ¾ acre place. It really is pretty big and I did NOT feel like getting back out and doing it myself again.

I emailed the company (a guy and his wife) and she quoted me $350. I was in a mood because I had just paid the monthly bills. That happens on the 11th of each month. The great thing about getting irritated is that you are more likely to feel, enough is enough! At least it does for me.

When I pay bills like property taxes and homeowners, it can be a lot easier to ask. Nothing like that ripped off feeling to motivate you to stop getting ripped off!

Anyway, I thought $350 was ridiculous for what I knew would take the guy 20 minutes and he would use maybe a few gallons of weed killer. At that moment I was thinking $50 is the raw cost to the owner. I got irritated.

I thought to myself, You gotta be kidding me. I can go out there and do it for $80 and two hours of work. (I needed those two hours but I am not obligated to share that with my lawn guy.)

I wrote a quick mail, and said, I really do not want to pay 350. I can do it myself but want to give you the business. What about a hundred bucks? She wrote back, If you can wait until we are in your area, we can do it for $150.

This sounds fine to me. He pays his $50 to the lawn guy, gas for his truck and $15 for chemicals he buys in bulk.

When will that be?

In about two weeks.

Now that is more like it.

The price is almost certainly not REALLY $350 or $150. The price is whatever price a person/company says right now, at this moment in time.

This brings me back to when I moved into this house. Real big house, big yard, really big driveway. The driveway is essentially a street. I did my own snow blowing the first winter here in 2010. The problem was snow blowing a street is a serious project and in Minnesota when the big storms go by they are typically followed by northerly winds that bring in serious cold (-10 or colder is not uncommon). I did NOT want to deal with the driveway anymore.

Get 70% off what you think it is worth?

SnowI had no idea what paying a guy to come and do this street, er driveway, was going to cost me. I just knew it was costing me about 2 hours and if the snow was a half foot or more it could be 3 hours.

I was sitting with the plow guy in the front yard and we were talking service businesses. I tried to think of how long it would take to plow my driveway compared to my neighbor who has an everyday normal driveway.

Then I thought of how hard it would be to navigate his plowing in that tiny driveway.

I was not sure but my guess was he could do my driveway in 10 minutes with five or six big straight runs from beginning to end. Meanwhile I thought it might take 20 minutes to do a tiny driveway with all the back and forthing he would have to do.

To be direct with you, I would have paid $100 per snowfall instead of having to blow for two or three hours myself. I decided, yes, I will be happy to pay anything up to $100 per snow event.

I asked him about my tiny driveway hypothesis. He nodded. He told me he would much rather do my driveway than risk running into stuff in small driveways.

I asked him how many snow events per year he usually had.

There are generally nine, two inch snows here, in the average year. Anything less and I will not come out. I work by the season. I do not come out for any one time plowing.

So my mind is sitting on $1000 for the season. I figured he would ask for double that.

OK, what do you want for the season?


I nearly fell over.

And of course you learn the lesson of not being the first to mention a number when you are not in their business and aware of what they value.

The other lesson of course is figure out what REALLY is the time generator for some project.

I have no doubt that he has a lot of $2,000 gigs here in our little town.

I was thrilled to sign on for a year at $310.

Gary, you make a lot of calls into customer service centers. What are some thoughts about talking to these reps. What power do they have? Can they make your day or are they just there to not answer the phone or keep you in line as long as possible?

Don't be a jerk in negotiations. It always surprises me when people tell me that they will yell, scream, berate, and try to intimidate the customer service representative handling the call for the complaint they have with their cell phone company, internet provider, television provider.

One of my first jobs was working in customer service. Answering phones to hear people yell about a product they were paying $10.00 a month for. Grown adults would lose their minds over a product that cost $10.00 a month. At the time I was making $6.71 an hour to hear these first world complaints.

There was many a time that I wanted to tell these 40 year old children, I will pay you $20.00 to never be a customer of ours again and to never call here again. This gets back to asking politely. How likely do you think it is that someone will want to help you after you’ve talked to them in a demeaning manner?

Highly unlikely.

In fact, you’re probably going to get hung up on. You’re going to have to call back and wait 10, 15, or 30 minutes on hold to speak to a real, live person that can actually help you.

Ask Intelligently.

Never think that you are entitled. You are not. Do not be the person that calls cable/satellite provider and say, The cable/satellite is down and I cannot watch the Super Bowl! You owe me F-R-E-E cable/satellite for life!They do not. No one owes you anything. Life happens. Get over it.

An intelligent way of asking would be, Hello. For some reason the cable/satellite in our area has gone out during crucial moment in my Super Bowl viewing party. Is there anything that we can do over the phone to fix this problem? There is? Thank you. For the inconvenience today do you think that you could give me a complimentary upgrade to HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax? Also, I just got an e-mail the other day from your competition offering me a much lower rate. Could you credit my account $10 a month for the next year as long as I remain a customer? You can? Wow, thank you.

Remember, it takes just as much time to be rude, nasty, and mean spirited as it does to be nice. Being rude to people that can help you will cost you a lot of money in the long term. Taking the time to to be polite and friendly will save you an incredible amount of money.

By being nice in just one area of my business/life I saved $18,000 in one year.

KH: The way I look at it, that means you would needed to have earned another $25,000 last year to pay for the $18,000 that you ultimately did not have to pay, simply because you asked.

Gary smiled.

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