From a lifelong salesman

Everyone is searching for a better deal. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a new appliance, a new car, or a new house, we all want more bang for our buck. But people tend to shy away from haggling when buying, which means they could be leaving hundreds, even thousands of dollars behind on the showroom floor.

Although commonplace in many parts of the world, most people don’t know how to negotiate a better price. When it comes time to talk price, they either pay whatever the ticket says, or they have worked themselves up so much, they blurt out “give me your best price.”

Neither of these work. Like anything in life, you need to do a little bit of work first to get the result you want, but don’t worry, it isn’t hard work, and I am going to walk you through it.

1) Research 

Before anything else, you need to do your research. Decide on what features you want, and what don’t. Is it the right product for your life? Take some time with this, especially if it is a big-ticket item, a salesperson’s job is to make as much money from each sale as possible, if you aren’t committed to your product, they will try and switch sell you into a different model which makes them more money, but may not be a good option for you.

Another advantage of doing your research is; the salesperson does not have to run you through the product. People are wired to find the most efficient way to get a result. A salesperson who has to spend more time running you through everything about the product is going to be less inclined to offer you a better deal because they have invested time in the sales process. Coming in already knowing what you want, saves time for both of you, but also lets the salesperson know you are a savvy shopper who knows what you are talking about.

Once you know which product is right for you, research the price, and decide what you are willing to pay. You have to be realistic here. You can’t expect to negotiate to get a Ferrari for the price of a Nissan. But you can save money. Do some research, most products you will find you can get anywhere from 10% – 20% off, with some like IT products being lower around 5% – 10%, and jewellery being anywhere from 15% – 50%.

Decide on the price you are happy with and stick to that. Too many people are focused on “the best deal.” they want to try and screw the business as hard as they can, no matter what price they are offered they refuse and make an ass of themselves. The truth is, if the company took your deal, then they still made money. There is nothing wrong with companies making money; it is what they are meant to do. Pick a price you are willing to pay and be happy with it.

2) Pick The Right Time

If you don’t need to buy the product straight away, bide your time, there are critical times throughout the year that can help you snatch a better deal.

The last week of the month – Typically salespeople are paid on commission, if it is nearing the end of the month and they haven’t hit their target, they will be more inclined to negotiate a better deal to close the sale.

End of the financial year – Everyone is trying to move stock at the end of the fiscal year, you will see plenty of ads talking about specials, but don’t think the price advertised is the lowest they will go, there is still a little bit of juice left to be squeezed out.

December – December is a massive month for sales, especially for retail and car dealerships. No one wants poor sales in December, and because December is considered a short month due to holidays, everyone is motivated to sell. As a side note, if you are looking for retails items (fridges, TVs, stereos, jewellery) go earlier in December, if you are looking at a car, motorbike, boat etc., go later in the month.

But what about Boxing day? Often businesses will be willing to do boxing day specials before boxing day, all you have to do is ask. There are some rare cases where they will have secured a great deal on one or two items, but if you wanted to avoid the crowds, you could still negotiate an excellent price.

January – The beginning of January is an opportune time to buy, after the Christmas rush, stores will have models from last year they want to clear, and would be willing to take less for it to make way for new models.

Weekends vs Weekdays – If the place you are buying from is open seven days a week, try and go during the week. Weekdays are often quieter for those businesses, they still have daily targets to meet, and they aren’t as busy, so they will be willing to entertain a lower price than they would on the weekend.

3) Be Friendly

If you have ever been in sales you would have heard the phrase; People buy off people they like. This works both ways; people also give better deals to people they like.

“A good negotiator flatters the seller not the product.”

― Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

Back when I worked in retail, my biggest pet peeve was when I would greet someone, and their response was “what is your best price on this?” No hello, no small talk, just a rough start to a conversation. Those people never got the best price. They got a minimal discount if any, and no extra help, or service. 

Conversely, the people that came in who were friendly had a small chat, and were polite would usually get a better deal even if they didn’t ask for it, but would also get better service if something went wrong, or they needed help setting up what they bought.

It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind to the salesperson, but it could save you some significant $$$

4) Ask For A Deal

Here it is, the big moment, if you do nothing else on this list, this is the one thing you absolutely should do every time,

Ask for a better price.

All your research and going at the right time is all for nothing if you don’t ask for a better price. Asking for a better price is 80% of the battle, this alone will see get some discount on almost anything. Some people get a bit nervous when asking, but keep in mind salespeople are used to it, we get asked daily for a better price.

If they are good at sales, they will ask you for the sale, and you can ask for a better deal then. If they haven’t asked for a commitment, you can be upfront and tell them you are interested, but you have a different price in mind. Remember to be polite; they want to give you a deal because they want the sale; being rude at this point doesn’t help anyone.

The Negotiation Process

Once you have asked for a better deal, they will try to negotiate with you. Professional businesses will invite you to take a seat (sometimes saying you prefer to stand can give you an upper hand, it gives the impression you are ready to walk out at any moment). Whatever happens, the negotiation process is the same. The salesperson will either agree to your price or will provide a counter offer. Remember to be polite but firm; you have done your research, you know what you want.

A couple of tips when negotiating:

  1. It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as the message received is “I want a better price” then you are fine.
  2. They may ask you what price you were thinking, often people will respond with something like “Your best price”, it is stupid and goes nowhere, no one wants to sit around trying to play a guessing game of price. If they ask, give them a price, but make sure it is under your target price, if there is money in it, they will come back with a price a bit higher than what you mentioned which should be close your target price.
  3. Don’t give them a ridiculous amount, if the item is $2,000 and you offer them $500; they aren’t going to take you seriously and think you are wasting their time. If the price is $2,000 and your target price is $1,850, go in at $1,800, this gives you some wiggle room.
  4. Don’t be the first to speak, “whoever speaks first loses.” Once you have given a price, be silent and wait for them to speak. Your instinct will be to fill the silence but don’t; it will feel uncomfortable at first, the more you do it, the more it becomes a game to see who will crack first. Staying silent conveys a message of not being invested in the product; you aren’t eager or impatient, you have made your offer it is their move, let them squirm. As a side note, if you offer a price and they respond with “I don’t think we can do this” you can remain silent, they are testing your resolve, stay strong and let them find out what they can do before you respond.
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk away, if they aren’t budging on price or offering the deal you want, be ok with politely halting negotiations, getting up, and walking out. If they are trying to play you, they will quickly stop you from leaving and offer a better price, if they can’t do the deal you want, they will let you go.

5) Ask For Freebies or Bundles

There are times where a vendor legitimately may not be able to give you the deal you want; the stock came in at a higher price, it is already a heavily discounted price, it is a brand new model. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get a deal. 

If, after some back and forth negotiations you can’t get the price down any lower, switch your attention to what they can throw in, it is often easier to get some extras thrown in than it is to get a discount because of perceived value. A car salesperson may offer to throw in a free set of floor mats which retail for $200, but only cost him $50, this is still a great deal for you as it saves you somewhere around $200 (depending on how good you would have been negotiating for car mats.) And it works for them as they lose less money on the deal. You should always be able to get a better deal; sometimes, you just need to be creative.