The Sales Negotiation Lessons Learned in the 3rd Grade

The third grade was my daughter’s favorite school year, thus far, and she made incredible strides in many regards with her learning and development. She had fantastic teachers who cultivated her love for learning and classmates who made each day filled with fun memories. While she was excited for summer vacation, wrapping up the year was bittersweet. A lot was learned this year, and looking back, I have to chuckle when I think back to my favorite lesson learned this year, which was a sales negotiation, put on by two 9-year-olds.

One evening, late this spring, while my wife was getting our daughter’s backpack in order for the morning, she noticed a slip of paper in her folders and books. The handwritten note simply said: “Bring $20”

By the handwriting, we thought it was a reminder that our daughter scribbled as instructions from her teacher. Perhaps, it was a reminder about funds that she would need to go toward an upcoming field trip or something of that nature, so my wife inquired and found out it was actually of a very different nature.

The Sales Negotiation for Homemade Slime 

We came to find out that her classmate and one of her best friends wanted to sell her homemade slime. Now, if you don’t have young children, you might not be aware, but slime has made a bigtime comeback and is a hot commodity for a third-grader. Nevertheless, we were still feeling a bit of sticker shock and explained this to our daughter. Our initial instinct, as my wife and I first dialoged between one another, was how our daughter has to learn not to let others take advantage of her and how she needs to be cautious with her money. But, since she was willing to use the savings she had stored in her piggy bank, we let her make the call.

“Giulia, $20 is a lot for homemade slime. You can buy it from your friend, if you want, but just realize that you won’t have much left and you won’t be able to buy yourself the outfit you were saving up for.”

When she realized the opportunity cost of spending her $20 on the slime, she reconsidered. So we suggested that she offer her friend less money.

The next day at school, our daughter engaged in her first sales negotiation.

“Reese, I really want to buy the slime, but $20 is just too expensive,” she told her friend.

“Fine, then $10,” her friend was quick to counter.

“Reese, that’s still a lot of money for slime.”

“Okay, then $5.”

But Giulia held firm, “Reese, I have $3. Can I buy it for $3?”

“Deal.”

Learning an Early Lesson on Sales Negotiation

Just like that, the transaction was complete and both parties were happy. And the lessons learned in this deal were the following:

  • Be Prepared – this is the only part that my wife and I can take credit for.
  • Know What You Want – my daughter understood what she’d be sacrificing if she bought the slime for a higher amount than the $3 she bargained for.
  • Know Your Limits – she went in prepared to walk away if her friend wouldn’t lower the price.
  • Make Your Counter Offer Compelling – she explained that $3 was still pretty good for some homemade slime that only took a few minutes to make with some Elmer’s glue, shaving cream, saline solution and food coloring.
  • Aim for a Win-Win Scenario – Reese made a few bucks, Giulia got the slime she wanted  without spending all of her money, and their friendship stayed intact. 

The Final Takeaway

We had a good laugh sharing the note and this story with Reese’s parents, who were completely unaware of their daughter’s dealings at school. We assured them that Reese has a solid future as an entrepreneur or salesperson!

Tony Zayas

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