Throughout most of human history, people gathered at traditional markets to trade goods. The amount paid for those goods was always determined through the process of negotiation. In fact, the price tag is a relatively recent invention.
Today, negotiation is a lost art as few modern Americans remain skilled at the practice. We see a price and expect to pay that amount, with the exception of negotiating when buying cars and homes. But even in those instances, you may end up paying more than you should, if you don’t know how to drive a hard bargain. The bottom line is, if you want to save money, you need to learn how to become a skilled negotiator. Here are 11 ways to do just that.
Essential Negotiation Strategies
1. You Can Negotiate Anything
The first thing you should know about negotiating is that everything is fair game, not just cars and houses. At stores, we tend to look at price tags and presume that the offer is final. It rarely ever is. At the very minimum, you should always ask the clerk if they have any coupons available or if any other discounts apply.
2. Ask to Speak With a Manager or Owner
Most sales clerks don’t really care if you make a purchase or not. They’re getting paid minimum wage, and your purchases won’t put any more money in their pocket. So the second step is to find the person at the store who will directly benefit from the sale. Ideally, you will want to speak with the owner of a small store, but that is impossible with most bigger retailers.
In those cases, look for the manager, whose compensation is most often tied to store sales and customer satisfaction. Ask him if they will offer a discount if you purchase more than one of the item, or if you’re a regular customer, ask for a small percentage off retail as a loyalty reward. The key is to let them know that the sale is dependent on their response, otherwise they have no incentive.
3. Keep a Poker Face
If you see an item you want and exclaim loudly that it’s perfect and that you’ve been seeking it for all of your life, there is little incentive for the other party to negotiate. Always keep your cool and don’t display any unusual interest in the item. When asked, limit your enthusiasm while unfavorably comparing it to other products. Then suggest that you might still be interested for the right price.
The strength of your negotiating position relies on your actual alternatives to this deal. As a buyer, you should never fixate on a single product; always shop around and keep your options open. As a seller, you should always be prepared to seek more potential buyers.