Even if you’ve never negotiated prices, consider starting now. With the recession making consumers skittish and scarce, merchants are more willing to deal. Try these proven tactics:
1. Build rapport. -- “Your goal is to establish an authentic connection, not a manipulative one,” says Daniel L. Shapiro, associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and co-author, with Roger Fisher, of Beyond Reason: Using Emotion as You Negotiate. Finding common ground as golfers or parents of picky eaters can shift the relationship from “me vs. you” to “we.”
2. Never bully. -- Successful haggling creates win-win situations and forges partnerships. “It comes down to human nature,” explains Robert Spector, author, retail historian, and customer service speaker. “People are more likely to help people who help them.” Making snide remarks about the product doesn’t help anyone walk out the door with it -- unless it truly is defective.
3. Bring something to the table. -- Offer to help the seller by buying in bulk, purchasing a scratched floor model, or buying at the end of the season.
4. Pick the right time. --
You’re more likely to snag deals after the holidays or at the end of the month, when sales quotas loom. Shop during off hours to find sales staff with time to talk, and receptive managers.
5. Shop with real money. --
Paying in cash can help savvy shoppers get lower prices.
6. Never say the first number. --
Staking out territory doesn’t help with haggling. Get the seller to make the first offer.
7. Don’t start too high. --
Not bidding far enough below your target price is a common mistake. Start as low as possible without being insulting.
8. Remember, silence is your friend. --
Don’t answer offers immediately. A well-timed sigh can lengthen a pause and prompt something better. If a seller tries this, hold tight and don’t negotiate against yourself.
9. Always ask. --
Shoppers without coupons can sometimes get discounts, if they ask. If something is already on sale, requesting a little extra could help retailers move the product.
10. Don’t get too attached. --
Shapiro calls this “identifying your BATNA
,” or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement
. Know when you’ll walk away, and you’ll have the upper hand. But don’t go away mad. Go with regret, and leave your name. A salesperson might call with a better deal.
“Haggle in an upfront way, and always show respect,” Spector says. Done right, haggling isn’t about pulling a fast one. It’s helping others make you an offer you can’t refuse.