Say you want to buy a stainless steel appliance at your favorite big box store. It has a price label affixed right on to its shiny metal face. Is that a firm price? Most people think it is, and will never even try to negotiate a better price. Really, what the label is giving you is an asking price (or sometimes known as the manufacturer’s suggested retail price or MSRP).

With most prices, there is usually  some flexibility. According to Dr. Chester L. Karrass you should look at the price and say to yourself: “That’s the most the seller or merchant wants. I wonder what the least they will take is?” In negotiating terms, this is called testing the price.

Even in a big name store you can ask for a price reduction, because if you don’t ask you certainly will not get it. You may not get an outright reduction, but you may try to get some concessions. Here are a few ideas from Dr. Karrass:

  • Quantity: Buying more than one item to get a discount on both
  • Billing date:  Arranging to change the billing date to one more favorable to your financial cycle
  • Delivery: Getting a discount for using your own delivery service.
  • Nibbling: Getting the salesperson to throw in extras (ice cube trays, cleaning service, etc.) for “free”
  • Concession: Asking for two or more deals (discounts, extra payment time, etc.) and extracting at least one

There are two more techniques that you can use to test the firm price.

  • Take it to a higher authority (the store manager, the company president)
  • Be ready to walk away (you can come back later)

Are you interested in negotiating better prices on tickets? Rafi Mohamed, a pricing strategy consultant, shares his tips on the Harvard Business Review blog post “How a Pricing Expert Negotiates Cheap Tickets.” Among his tips:

As with many negotiated purchases, the first price a ticket scalper quotes you isn’t the final price. Go into your “you need to do better for me” posturing. Classic tactics include invoking a higher authority (“my budget is tight”) or competition (“other resellers are offering lower prices”). Trust me: you’ll be rewarded with a lower price.

Business negotiation tactics, and a bit of nerve, are all you need to challenge (and potentially reduce)  a firm price. What tactics have worked for you?

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