The longer I’ve been bartering as a business strategy, the more I come to a conclusion that I don’t like: There are people who don’t understand barter, and they probably never will. They just don’t get it. It doesn’t matter how many times you explain it, what analogies you use, or how advantageous a particular deal might be to these types of people. They are often fear-driven and cannot get past untrue preconceived notions. These are the folks that think that barter is a tax-dodge, or that it’s a slippery used car salesman technique. To these people barter is by definition unsavory, dishonest and even criminal.
Ug. These people drive me crazy!!!! I think the reason they bug me so much ISN’T because they have the wrong idea about barter. That’s actually not a big deal. Most people don’t understand barter the way us barter geeks do. What makes me nuts is that I’m often unable to help them understand the reality of barter; how good and honest and relationship-building and profitable barter can be. It’s almost like there is a barter gene, and people either have it or they don’t.
So….what to do? You have a great trade lined up that’s a win-win for both parties, but it turns out that the person (or persons) you are dealing with just doesn’t “get barter.” I wish I had a magic answer for you. The way I see it you have two options, neither of which are particularly good:
1) Walk away. This is definitely the low-blood pressure approach that saves time and stress. Unfortunately it also means you are walking away from a mutually profitable deal. I’ll say it again: Ug.
2) Try to work with them anyway. You may be able to talk them into the deal. It is, after all a good deal for both parties so it seems reasonable that you should be able to show them the benefit of the transaction. Their are a bunch of downsides to this approach though. Firstly this kind of sale totally stresses me out. Life is short. Is it really worth it? Secondly, you could be unsuccessful in selling the deal which means a big waste of your time. Thirdly, you may actually make the transaction, only to find out later that they were only begrudgingly “sold” on the idea and still don’t really grasp why the deal was mutually beneficial. In that case you can forget ever trading with them again. Plus when that happens I personally want to stab my own eyes out.
When I read over the two options above it seems obvious to me that the “walk away” option is the wiser of the two, and yet I often find myself in the potion of trying to barter with people who are uncomfortable with the concept. Clearly I can’t take my own advice. The good news is that there are plenty of people who do understand barter and are happy to do it. I’m much happier when I stick with those folks.
I’d love to hear back with advice from my readers!