There is an old expression, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right.” This certainly applies to how you approach your negotiations. Your power is in your head.
Much of what happens during a negotiation is influenced by the expectations and pre-conditioning of each party. As we discuss in the Karrass Effective Negotiating Seminar, you are normally more aware of your pressures than the pressures on the other party. You need to discipline yourself to determine what pressures the other party has. And, to what extent you can, precondition the other party to impact their expectations.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times (April 15, 2008) illustrates this issue. The article describes what’s happening today with many consumer purchases – things like flat-screen televisions, new furniture, clothes, luggage, etc.
Most of us have preconceived expectations regarding what is possible, and what is not possible, when we see that sale price posted on a new flat-screen television. But, as this LA Times article states, this is changing!
“With jobs getting scarcer, stocks on a roller coaster and economists talking recession, not many people feel like paying full price for, well, anything.” Now is the time to try negotiating. “That’s right, the age-old tactic more frequently observed in foreign bazaars and rug stores is returning to the malls and Main Street. As stores feel pressured to move merchandise, and consumers feel the pinch of slowing economy, prices are becoming more negotiable.”
Negotiating is at an all time high. “Negotiating is more common at independent retailers than big chain stores . . . but that is changing, says Richard Giss, a partner in Deloitte & Touche’s consumer business division in Los Angeles.”
Obviously when a store permits its salespeople to negotiate prices, it can hurt the bottom line. But, it can hurt the store much more if merchandise ends up sitting around unsold and larger discounts have to be offered to sell it a month from now.
What is the key to taking advantage of this changing climate in the consumer marketplace? You’ve got to try to negotiate. Don’t let your head tell you it can’t be done.
Remember what we talked about in our Effective Negotiating Seminar. Be prepared to negotiate. Research prices before you start and know what competitors are offering (the power of competition). Use the Web – more and more merchants are agreeing to match the price of something you can purchase on-line.
Be nice (i.e. establish a relationship). Take your time, this assures both you and the merchant have a vested interest in making a deal happen. Ask for information on upcoming discounts, past discounts, special un-advertised discounts, special discounts or coupons they have sent out to other customers, that could be used for this purchase.
Sometimes a merchant may be willing to take off the sales tax. Paying cash, “or pulling out a credit card or checkbook and looking ready to buy on the spot helps too.” Ask for help, “This is all I can spend. What can you do for me?”
Be persistent; but be prepared to walk out (deadlock) “When they say, ‘I can’t do that. I’ll lose money,’ say ‘If I walk out of here, you’ll lose even more money.” As one merchant said, “We don’t want to do it, but we don’t want to lose the business either.”
Don’t make a scene in the store. A merchant is much more likely to offer a price concession if not all the other shoppers in the store hear what is happening. If you are purchasing multiple products (i.e. three pairs of shoes) ask for a discount. If you are a repeat customer, ask for the ‘good customer discount.’ Try a ‘nibble’ – if I buy these, will you give me one of these?
You may be surprised how things have changed – just in the last few months. “One thing is certain: There’s no harm in asking. And shop owners probably won’t be surprised if you ask for a bargain.” These negotiations starts with you – you have to ask!