The Art of Haggling
For some, a price tag is merely a suggestion. In some cases (and be warned, this does not apply to all retail sales) there is room for negotiation. There is an art to haggling though, to really maximize your discounts.
Pick your Battles
Realize that not all shops or types of businesses are going to be open to negotiation (in fact many will show you the door). The key here is to value your time as you do your money and to channel your energies in the most profitable direction.
Usually pricing for big ticket items leaves some room for negotiation, but smaller merchandise (and often smaller stores) have little room in their margins for debate.
Look Beyond Price
While your ultimate goal is likely to pay as little as possible outright for a product or service, there may be other benefits lurking in the purchase process.
If discounting on your current purchase isn’t possible, what about free-ad ins, discounted maintenance services for the product, or discount on a future purchase?
All of these items could potentially contribute to your savings. Have in your mind what you are willing to accept and what form the “discount” will take.
No matter what the subject, your argument carries more weight if you know what you are talking about.
It behoves you to do some research on a given product before shopping to know how much it really costs. Further to that, it makes good consumer sense to research various competitors to determine how much they are charging.
Depending on the product, and on the nature of competition between different vendors, bringing forth the “beat the competitor” strategy can often yield positive negotiation results.
Write a Script
Just as salespeople are trained to handle objections to persuade a customer to buy, so can the customer use these same techniques to try to leverage their purchasing power.
Do a little role play before your shopping, and write out what you are going to say. Determine what the vendor’s response will be and how you will counter your response. Being organized puts weight behind your request.
Talk to the Right Person
Realize that the hierarchy of store staff is most likely linked to decision-making power. Don’t be too hard on staff that really doesn’t have the power to give you what you want anyways.
If possible, start off with the manager- or realize that you should request to escalate your conversation quickly.
If the vendor, really, really wants your sale, it is all about power. If they feel that you are on the brink of purchase, with a little nudge in the right direction, solidify that notion by suggesting that you are prepared to walk away.
Don’t bail immediately though. Listen to what they have to say- and be interested. It’s all about strategy.
Timing is Everything
Like most success stories, haggling hinges on strategic timing. Realize that negotiation is a choice- and you have to put it on the table when vendors might be more receptive.
Think about things like day of the week (Monday morning- bad idea. Closer to the end of the day prior to the weekend? Sold!). Consider the stage in the season or in the sales cycle. If the product is getting towards the end of its current shelf life, you may wield a little more bargaining power.