If you get sticker shock from something you want but can’t afford, think again. Many prices are negotiable given the right setting, and you may be able to get what you want for less.
- Just Ask
Many people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about it, but negotiating a price really benefits both parties. A salesperson would rather make a sale at a lower price than none at all, and you get what you want for less. Practice your skills often to increase your comfort level. Garage sales and flea markets are a great place to start. Once you feel confident, go for a better deal on your next big-ticket item such as an appliance, electronic equipment, furniture, hotel stay or car rental. The simplest path to a discount begins by asking “Can you do any better on the price?” You can also ask if any markdowns or promotions will begin soon, and you may be able to buy at that price if the seller fears you won’t make a second trip back later.
- Be Casual
If you really want a particular item, don’t let the seller know. Your willingness to decline an item if the price is too high gives you negotiating power. If the seller thinks you will pay a high price, he or she will insist on a high price. Give the impression that you are just browsing and picked up something that caught your eye. Say “It’s nice, but I can take it or leave it.” Show hesitation about the purchase; a long pause as though you’re having difficulty deciding will usually push the seller to offer a better price or add something extra to the deal. If the seller doesn’t budge, do walk away. There’s a chance they’ll chase you to offer a better price.
- Knowledge is Power
Research the typical price for the item you want. Knowing the going rate enables you to spot the markup that less informed customers would pay without question. You can also use a competitor’s price to negotiate. Retailers hate to see a sale walk out and take their business elsewhere, so knowing that a customer is already looking elsewhere gives them incentive to make the sale at a better price.
- Pay Cash
For an independently owned business, paying with cash instead of plastic could net a discount. Processing a credit card costs the business, and checks take time to clear along with the risk of a bad check. Cash is better than inventory, so the upfront payment also gives you negotiating power, especially if you have cash but are just a few dollars short of having the sticker price.
- Be Patient
Salespeople are trained to control a sale. Be friendly but firm and stay focused on the price. Negotiation takes patience, and the side with more of it will get the better end of the deal. If a salesperson says he or she doesn’t have the authority, ask for a manager.
Remember that grocery stores, discount stores and large chains may not be willing to negotiate price, so don’t waste your time and theirs. Be friendly and stay confident and you will be able to negotiate like a seasoned shopper in no time.