If you are like most people, you probably assume that the price you see is the price you will pay. You might believe that vendors are unwilling to negotiate, or be uncomfortable with the negotiating process yourself.
However, in most cases, it is in fact possible to pay less for almost everything you buy, if you know exactly how to communicate with the right people. While the likelihood of getting a box of cereal or a bag of flour from the grocery store for less than the advertised price is rather slim, when it comes to other purchases, including rent, clothing, and services, you can usually negotiate a lower price — if you follow the right steps
Do Your Homework
One of the most common reasons that people overpay for products and services is that they do not know the worth of what they are buying. In other words, they haven’t done their homework. One of the basic principles of conflict resolution and negotiating is to come to the table prepared; it’s important to know the facts, find a common interest, and understand the other side’s interests, so that you can reach a mutually beneficial solution. When you are trying to negotiate a better price, this means understanding the facts, which might include knowing what competitors are charging and what the item cost the vendor and knowing what motivates the seller. Is it month end? Do they work on commission? You obviously don’t want to take advantage of the seller and cause them to lose money, since that isn’t mutually beneficial, but coming in armed with the facts will allow you to negotiate a fair price that both sides can live with.
Another common reason that negotiations fall apart is that people often take no for an answer. Even if they do their homework and have compelling reasons for a discount — it might even be something as simple as a dented can at the grocery store — when the seller says “no,” they simply accept it and pay full price. What they fail to realize is that the initial “no” is in fact a negotiating tactic itself, and it doesn’t always mean that there isn’t a deal to be had. If a seller doesn’t agree to your first offer, ask why, and how they arrived at their decision. Don’t be afraid to make a counter offer, or to ask if there is anything at all they can do to “sweeten the pot,” so to speak. For example, if you can’t get a lower price on your monthly cable television package, ask if you can have free premium channels or an extra receiver instead. You’re still paying the same bill every month, but you’re getting more for your money.
There’s a saying “Shoot for the moon; you might just land among the stars.” Nothing could be truer when negotiating. Never make your first offer your best offer, but ask for your ideal price and negotiate from there to the price you would actually consider paying. You might be surprised when the seller agrees to your initial offer, or when you get something better than you hoped for.
Be Willing to Walk Away
When you want to negotiate a price, it’s always best to give yourself plenty of time, because when you desperately need something right away, you’re probably going to accept offers or pay higher prices because you don’t want to lose the item or the opportunity. If you have time, though, whether a few weeks or months, you can comfortably walk away if you simply can’t reach acceptable terms. For example, if you are buying a new car, start looking for a new one several months before your old one can no longer be driven. That way, if one dealership refuses to work with you or offer a fair price, you have time to check other dealerships and score a better price.
Finally, many people associate negotiating with being hardnosed, stubborn, and, in some cases, almost mean. However, you’re more likely to get what you are asking for when you are polite, professional, and restrain your emotions. Yelling, threatening, and body language that shows an unwillingness to compromise is not going to get you what you want. However, smiling, saying please, and being polite but firm in your request is probably going to garner better results than throwing a temper tantrum. And of course, do not forget to say thank you after the negotiations are done, and acknowledge the other side’s compromises.
Negotiating a better price does not have to be intimidating. If you learn to do it gracefully, you can potentially save thousands of dollars every year on just about everything you buy.
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