My sister was elated with her latest score. She haggled for a snickers bar and saved a quarter.
I’m telling you this because haggling is one of my top ways to save money on holiday presents. (Holiday sales are expected to grow by a healthy amount this winter, which tells me you are likely gearing up for a major purchase.) Here is my crash course in haggling.
Why haggling works
Successful price negotiation happens when the seller wants to close the deal more than the buyer. Most buyers have no idea negotiation is an option, so sellers never bring it up. In reality, it’s possible to negotiate on almost everything.
Haggling is a state of mind. Believe me, I’ve talked down the price of pizza, T-shirts, hotel rooms, cell phone bills, mattresses, sunglasses, clothing,ï¿½ groceries, sneakers, and cupcakes.
Not that I ask for a discount every time I buy. That would land me in reject-ville. Instead, I look for specific things that indicate the seller is open to negotiating.
What to look for
There are six factors that can lead to successful haggling.
The merchandise is damaged or incomplete.
The merchandise is extremely old.
No one is buying.
A rival seller is offering a better deal.
The seller has a great deal of the product.
The product is about to go out of season (like a swimsuits in July) or expire.
These all indicate the seller has had or is having a hard time selling the product. This sets the stage for getting a deal.
Additionally, a seller may be open to negotiating if you are a loyal and recognized customer, if you buy in bulk, or if you pay in cash. The more of these factors you have in your favor, the greater your chance for success.
How to pull it off
Unlike my sister, my Mom has never successfully negotiated a discount. Here is how she typically describes an attempt.
“I walked up to the counter with my (insert item here), money in hand, and asked to get 10% off. They said no.”
My Mom has the nerve to ask for a discount – which is hard at first but gets easier. She fails because she does not look for the six factors listed above and, most importantly, she fails to subtly share them with the seller.
To get a deal, you have to let the seller know you are aware of the factors that fall in your favor. If they don’t know that you know, they assume you don’t know. Simple.
I find weaving into conversation my observations of the factors in my favor is a great way to start. “Wow, it’s late in the day and you have a lot of pizza!” “I just noticed this top has a black mark.” “I’m buying 30 T-shirts now, but I’m starting a new business and will be ordering 200 within six months.” These are all opening lines I’ve used before eventually asking politely for a discount.
I am friendly, discreet, and I often compliment the seller on his or her wares. If there is a sale at a rival business, I show them the flyer or coupon as proof. Do they price match? I shop during slow times so the seller has time to work with me, and I mention if I have shopped there before.
I use body language to let the seller know I’m not sold. I point to the product instead of picking it up. I pause to think about the price instead of deciding quickly. I leave the store if I’m not ready to buy and tell the seller I may be back after I research my options.
Other things I may say to the seller: “I noticed this has not sold in 6 weeks. I can take it off your hands if you are able to sell it for 10% off.ï¿½ ï¿½This item is damaged slightly. Would you be able to shave 20% off the price?ï¿½ ï¿½Another store has a better price but I like to shop here. Can you work with me?ï¿½ ï¿½Iï¿½d really like to buy this item but itï¿½s a bit above my budget.ï¿½ “Is there a discount for paying in cash?”
Lastly, just ask. If you donï¿½t ask, you wonï¿½t get a discount. The more you ask the easier it gets, so start trying. Keep the discussion friendly and leave the door open to make the purchase at the original price so if you get turned down you donï¿½t feel the need to stalk off. I have been turned down many times, but I have also gotten discounts where I never expected to succeed. Try it!