The art of haggling

Negotiating a deal or a discount does not come easily to most of us. We look at some simple rules to help you master the art of haggling.
Image: © Kzenon - Fotolia.com

When people think of haggling, they usually lock into the idea of getting a 'cheaper' deal at any cost. This may be because the online shopping world has led us to believe that cheaper is better.

However, price is just one part of a negotiated result. The reality is that the cheapest price often means a compromise somewhere else, such as limited customer service or lower quality product. That's right, you get what you pay for.

So what is it that we really want? As it turns out, it’s a belief that we got value.

But how can we ensure that we get value for our buck? There are several ways to make the shopping experience enjoyable and rewarding.

Be likeable

Take the time to get to know your sales person and let them get to know you. By building a temporary relationship with them, they will feel more inclined to want to help you out. They may be able to offer free delivery, a bigger discount, free gifts or even more flexible terms. If you're a personality-free, anonymous customer, why should they bother?

We are all more likely to help people we like, so be likeable.

Remember your manners

Salespeople regularly dismiss customers who are overly demanding. Put simply, being rude or aggressive won't help you get a better deal. In fact, it may well work against you.

It makes sense, really: sales people are people too. We all like to be treated with respect so, by using your manners, you are more likely to be shown mutual respect. A sales person that respects you as a customer will do more to help you get a better deal.

Time invested vs time wasted

The sale process requires an investment of time by both the buyer and sales person.

But as a buyer, you don’t have sales targets attached to how you spend your time. The sales person does. So, the more time that the sales person invests in you, the more they will want to make the sale.

When it comes to items like cars, houses or even a big retail purchase, a sales person who has invested a lot of time in you really doesn't want you to walk away. So the more time they have invested, the more you can negotiate to get what you want.

However, the flipside of this is that it is unfair to waste that salesperson's valuable time. If you are not ready to buy, be up front about it. Tell the sales person that you are still making a decision but need some information. This way they know how much time to invest and can meet your expectations without ending up frustrated.

Find their sticking point

Sales people are trained to look for your 'emotional hot buttons' and to strategically press them. So, game on, right? It’s only fair that you do the same to them.

Perhaps it's been a slow sales month, they have excess stock or there’s a bonus-based promotion happening. You need to find their sticking point, and then use that to your advantage to get the deal you want.

The news has been full of stories about how the climate is tough for retailers, and sales staff will have been urged to do whatever it takes to make better sales.

Work out how they're feeling about the product, the current sales climate and the current deal on offer. By being personable, polite and taking time to talk to sales people, it's amazing what they will reveal. They may tell you they are behind on their sales target for the month. If that's the case, it makes sense that they'll be more likely to negotiate with you, to get the sale and hit their targets.

Know what you want

And finally, before you even begin a conversation with the sales person, know what you want. Know how much you want to spend and what other options will be of value.

Knowing exactly what you want, being personable and polite will go a long way to getting you a better deal. So be smart, play nice and reap the rewards.

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