If you have ever made a large purchase and not haggled over the price, chances are you left some money on the table. Don’t beat yourself up. Learning how to negotiate is an acquired skill, and something most people would rather avoid.
I used to be the same way. I found it awkward to ask people for a discount, and I still do in some settings. However, the more success I had learning how to negotiate, the easier it became.
Americans are somewhat unique in that elsewhere in the world haggling is an everyday phenomenon. Here, we tend to see an item we want and walk up to the front of the store and pay the asking price. We’ve also learned that it may be considered impolite to ask for a lower price. Baloney. Everything is negotiable.
Speaking of bologna…the next time you are at the deli picking up some lunch meat, ask them if they have any end-of-the-loaf pieces they are willing to sell at a discount. The pieces are too small to cut with the electric slicer and usually wind up getting tossed. They are easy enough to slice by hand for half price. Consider it your first opportunity to negotiate.
Photo by Starmanseries on Flickr
How to Negotiate the Price of Just About Everything
1. Rule number 1, everything is negotiable. There is no need to limit haggling over prices to yard sales and used cars, but you won’t have much success trying to negotiate with big box retail stores. Try to find a small shop where you can talk with the owner directly, and discreetly.
2. Cash is king. Having cash in hand is a great negotiating strategy, because the seller knows you have the money in hand and there won’t be any issues with financing. They also know they won’t have to pay any transaction fees for processing your credit card.
3. Don’t rush into the transaction. Sales people are often taught not to rush into the transaction. This strategy works for the buyer as well. Strike up a conversation to get to know the salesperson. Find out their motivations. Can you determine if they work on commission? How much negotiating authority do they have?
4. Temper your enthusiasm for the product. Even if you really love the widget you are looking to buy, be sure the salesperson thinks you are indifferent and could just as easily walk out of the store empty handed.
5. Don’t be the first to name a price. This rule applies to just about every negotiation imaginable: He who first mentions a number loses.
6. Take your time when considering the first proposed price. If you immediately come back with a counter offer, it may appear you haven’t seriously considered the first offer, which could be considered offensive and derail the transaction entirely.
7. Give your reasons for countering and then make a counteroffer. Before tossing out your own number, give your reasons for countering. It is generally more well-received if you give your reasons for countering first. Once the other party hears your number, they tune out everything else.
8. Remember where the sweet spot is. The sweet spot is the price point where you pay a little more than you would like to pay, and the other party accepts a little less than he wants to accept.
As a general rule, introverts usually struggle when learning how to negotiate. It is just not in our nature to haggle, to get out of our comfort zone and take on a strong sales personality. The best thing to remember is, it never hurts to ask for a lower price. The worst they can say is no, and if you are willing to walk away from the deal anyway, what do you have to lose? Except a few dollars.