My awful negotiation skills and how I’m going to get better with Gumtree

You know me, I’m pretty gobby, hardly shy, and will seriously go out of my way to get myself a bargain. So, you’d think I’d be incredible at negotiating? Like, Apprentice contestant trying to buy balloons at a beauty salon level of good, right? Nope. Not in the slightest. I properly suck.

Maybe it’s an anxiety thing? Or a self-esteem thing? But whether it’s trying to get a pay rise (something I’ve never really done) or knocking a few quid off a pretty scarf while on holiday in Turkey – my throat gets dry, I get a bit shaky and want the world to swallow me up.

My mate and I were in Bali about 10 years ago and wherever you go, you’ll find people who will drag you along to their families’ market stall and try and sell you items. Now, if you think I’m wimpy now, you should have met me in my early 20s. I desperately wanted to please people and saying no to them, or trying to get them to agree with you, felt like a no-no.


We were dragged to a shop by a waterfall and this man tried to sell us a chessboard. It was a beautiful wooden thing (I couldn’t play chess for toffee though!), which he explained they spend hours handmaking. Now we didn’t have much money at all. We had worked the summer in a shop to go there, so didn’t really have the cash to buy this chessboard we didn’t actually want, but also wanted to leave and felt like buying it off him would make that happen.

I kid you not, we were negotiating for about 20 minutes, trying to explain that the £18 we had in Thai Baht was all we had. We bought the chessboard and were pretty pleased with ourselves because the seller had started off at about £90. We got a massive discount.

Well… we were happy until we went into the supermarket and saw there were thousands of the same, mass-produced chessboards for TWO BLOODY QUID. My mate was absolutely furious for being ‘done over’, while this had me in stitches thinking how funny it was. That seller saw us coming!

And I’m not really much better online either. I’ve been selling ALL my clothes online recently. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t (expect a blog post soon on it). It wasn’t until I started selling items that I realised other people will try and negotiate the price down and get you to end the listing early!

As much as I’m like ‘Oh I SEE – you’re playing it like that is it love?!’, eight times out of 10 I give in because I’m a wimp. Plus, if there’s a chance to get a better deal, why wouldn’t you take it? It’s all about having the confidence to connect and negotiating if there’s an opportunity.

So, I want to be better. I shop online A LOT and sell online a lot, and there are always tricks and tips
to learn. Because what is better than getting exactly what you want at the exact price you want to

The Etiquette of Buying and Selling Online

Gumtree has teamed up with the How to Academy and negotiation expert, Gavin Presman, (he’s like this mega trainer, speaker and insight coach) to create a guide to ‘The Etiquette of Buying and Selling Online.’ There’s a downloadable guide and a workshop you can go to in London, which are both completely free.

I’ve been having a nose at it, and it offers simple tips from buyers and sellers to help them confidently navigate the online marketplace process, from making first contact, to meeting to retrieve/handover the item, to the transaction itself.


I’m not going to give you any spoilers because the guide is free to download anyway, but it’s broken down into seven steps – research, advertise, connect, arrange to meet, meet, examine and negotiate. Check it out, because it could save you some serious cash in the long run and teach you how to navigate the process of buying and selling online.

It will help you sell your once-loved items online or grab yourself a bargain – without falling into the pitfalls that can lead to people finding the whole process awkward.

In fact, I was lucky enough to go on an ‘etiquette of buying and selling’ workshop with Gavin himself and some other amazing bloggers I bet you recognise like Emma Drew and Becky from Baby Budgeting.

A couple of my favourite things I took away from it was just how important it is to get the perfect headline. Now, I’ve worked at newspapers, so know that headlines are key (and actually surprisingly hard to do) – but never really considered that you should take the same level of effort and thought and put it into the item you’re selling.

Oh, and another thing which, doh! is completely obvious, but I never did any research on the price things were selling for in advance. I just stuck them on and hoped for the best. But it’s so worth spending 10 minutes or so researching what similar items have sold for, so you are in the best position possible.

Basically, it’s full of tips.

Let me know in the comments – what has been your best/worst online selling experience? Any tips
from the course that you think will help?

This is a collaborative post with Gumtree

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