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11. Wait for the seller's big sale or slow season. Many clothing,
appliance, and furniture stores substantially slash prices at least
once a year, usually after January 1. When buying a car, consider visiting
the dealer on a rainy day at the end of the month. Or buy at the end
of the model year, after next year's models have been introduced.
12. Ask for their advice. If you politely ask the salesperson for suggestions on how you can do better, she may surprise you with ideas you never thought of, such as how the store has given concessions in the past, or the dates of an upcoming sale. Even if she doesn't have the authority to deal, her ideas can help you to bargain with the manager.
13. Go to a higher level. If the salesperson can't or won't give you the deal you want, ask to see the manager or owner. Higher ups are more likely to bargain because they have more authority, they don't have time to haggle, and they are more inclined to look at big picture issues such as customer good will and, "How many of these items do we need to move?" Also, the amount of your requested discount may seem less significant to a manager, who is looking at overall sales figures, than to the salesperson, who is focused on her commission.
14. Find a way for the seller to save face. They may be reluctant to give you a discount because then they can't refuse to do the same for the next customer. They need to maintain the integrity of their pricing structure. You can give them a way out by accepting a product with a defect, or by choosing the floor model, last year's model, or a repossession. Any good reason you can suggest, such as a Sob Story or the Squeeze, can help them to justify making an exception.
15. Be funny. The use of humor can lighten up the atmosphere, weaken the seller's defenses, and make it easier for you to assume a tough bargaining position without alienating the salesperson. One of my favorite gambits is to ask, "Do you give veteran's discounts?" It usually gets a laugh or a chuckle, often followed by a discount.
Remember: None of these techniques will work unless you convince yourself that it is okay to negotiate. When you bargain for goods and services, you are participating in one of the oldest human activities. The people who founded this country were traders who wheeled and dealed all the time, and in most other parts of the world, bargaining is a respected art form that is enjoyed by both buyer and seller.
Although it won't work every time, bargaining is usually successful often enough to make it worthwhile and a whole lot of fun. The bottom line is that if you don't negotiate, you are unnecessarily leaving much of your hard-earned money on the table. If you don't ask, you don't get. Good luck!
Ed Brodow is a motivational speaker, negotiation guru on PBS, and author of Negotiate with Confidence and Beating the Success Trap. For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit http://www.brodow.com.
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Copyright © 2003, The Negotiator Magazine