The End of Paying Full Price: 7 Quick Tools for Getting a Better Deal

Written by Scott April 20, 2010

Negotiating a Fixed Price

Written by: Scott Dinsmore

Average Reading Time: 5.5 minutes

When was the last time you were shopping for a pair of jeans and you told the clerk, “you’ll have to do better than that” after seeing the price? My life experience would say that none of you have.  For some reason we feel like the number on a price tag is set in stone when we go to most shops–retail, grocery, etc. Well I have news for you. 95% of the time it’s not. Those storeowners are using the rule of legitimacy on us and it’s working–because it’s been written and printed, we assume it’s their best offer. Let’s change that assumption.

Over the last few years I have proven that this is far from the case. In fact, I very rarely pay full retail for things I buy in shops–whether it’s sun glasses, a few tomatoes, a new shirt or the web hosting package for this site. I often get a 10-15% discount or better. It turns out that just about everything is negotiable. Last week I took a two-day Karrass Negotiating Course (which I highly recommend to all of you–do your best to take it from Dennis Bain, an unreal presenter) and it brought some of these techniques to the front of my mind. Dr. Karrass is the businessman who went out to get his PhD in Negotiating about 40 years ago and realized one did not exist. So he created one. And now he teaches it all over the world. He seems to know his stuff. I want to share a few techniques with you–all of which I have tested successfully over the past years. Have fun with these.

7 Tools For Getting A Better Deal

1. ASK! You can go ahead and stop here if you’d like. This is all that really matters. Most people never even ask. Just think about what you have to lose. Likely nothing at all. So get out on a limb and just ask for a discount. The other side will often take it from there.

2. Let them know you found a better price somewhere else (but be sure you honestly did). You may be referring to Amazon.com or the shop down the street. Some places will discount just based on this. It’s best to have the evidence of the better deal if possible. Red Laser is an awesome iPhone app that scans bar codes and tells you where to find the best price. Very useful fixed price negotiating tool.

3. Give a big smile and ask for a fun and creative discount. Examples that I’ve used successfully are “the nice guy’s discount”, “the tourist discount”, “I’m new to town discount”, “I am a local business owner discount” or “I’m a teacher discount”. You get the idea. Have fun with it. They will too if you ask with a big smile.

4. Any sales going on? Lots of times there are things on discount that aren’t marked or that are going on sale tomorrow or were on sale yesterday. Ask for the sale price and you’ll likely get it.

5. Ask for the floor model. Sometimes this can be the best deal yet. I always ask for the floor model, especially when it comes to furniture. You know how long it takes to assemble that stuff? With the floor model you might get 10% or 20% off and you save a whole Saturday and maybe a couple minor arguments with your spouse in avoiding the construction step. This is worth a lot of money to me. And if the floor model has a knick or scratch, they will likely be happy to get it off their hands.

6. You don’t always have to negotiate on price. Realize there are other things that have real cost to you that may not be a part of the sticker price. Tax, shipping, assembly time, packaging, warranty, customer service or a little extra avocado on your Subway sandwich. This stuff is expensive when you add it up. If someone is sticking to their firm price then look for something else. Their guard will be down and the concession will likely be easier to get.

7. Trade your cheese for avocado. In negotiating, if you ever give something of value to the other side, be sure to ask for an equal or larger concession immediately in return. My favorite example is something we come across every day–ordering food. I rarely get cheese on my sandwiches but I love avocado. If I order a sandwich with avocado they will charge me the extra $1.25 but if I frame it something like “I don’t think I’ll have any cheese today but could you put some avocado instead?”, they see this more as an equal trade. I still don’t know why cheese is free but other add-ons are not, but as long as it is, I will continue to use it as a bargaining tool.

Have fun with these. It’s amazing what you can get. And I will say it again, the most important of these BY FAR is #1: ASK! Just ask. 99.9% of us are afraid to even ask for a discount. And then if we do, it’s with such little confidence that we are pretty much inviting the other side to reject us. What are you afraid of? I guarantee that if your ask comes with some character, playfulness and a big smile, you will have nothing to lose. The worst case is you get the price you were going to pay in the first place. And what are your chances of a discount if you don’t ask. That’s right–100%. So ask.

Deal Making Success: A Personal Story

I’ll end with a short story. Last weekend I went on a hike to the top of Mt. Tam just outside San Francisco. The adventure took many more hours than expected and when we got to the top we were low on food and very thirsty. To our amazement there was this oasis of a snack shack at the summit that had all the Gatorade and trail mix one could dream of. Then it hit me. We didn’t have a dime on us. So I did some thinking.

Then I went in with a big smile and started to inquire about their “day-long hikers who did not know what they were getting themselves into payment plan” among other things. Within 2 minutes the price of one Gatorade and one Snickers (my favorite treat at the pinnacle of an adventure) had gone from $4.50 to $0.00! I was thrilled and the other side was probably more jazzed about it than I was. The dollar amount savings may not have been too big but the 100% savings ranks up there in the record books. It was a blast. I did tell them I would get the money to them somehow/someday. So at the least, I negotiated some very favorable payment terms on nothing but good faith.

I thought my chances were just about zero of me getting anything from that shack. But it didn’t stop me from trying. I encourage you to do the same. I don’t write these articles just for your entertainment. I write them because the actions you take as a result will have an impact on your life. Big or small, you will notice the change and I think you will enjoy it.

Give this a try within the next 24 hours. I know it’s a bit outside your comfort zone but that’s the point. Have fun!

What’s been the best deal you have ever gotten on an item? How have these techniques worked for you? Will you share with us in the comments section?

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~Reading For Your Success

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