I am a bad negotiator. I hope you won’t remember that when I write my first post on six tips to negotiate successfully. When I recognized how poorly I negotiated, I decided to buy the book Negotiating For Dummies. It was a dollar at a second hand store so I thought I could learn something. Unfortunately, the book did not give me a single tool that I actually applied. Theoretically, the ideas sounded good, but I eventually decided it was not for me But, I have since learned one negotiating tip can help all negotiaphobics improve their negotiating skills.
How to Negotiate When You Are Afraid of Negotiating
Currently, I only have one negotiating rule:
When appropriate, ask, “Is that the best you can do?”
I may be a bad negotiator, but I am also a pretty determined guy. I came across the “Is that the best you can do?” question while reading Free Money Finance blog. I decided that I would give it a try. The plan was simple. While purchasing something out of the ordinary (not gasoline, groceries, or clothing) I would just ask, “Is that the best you can do?”
I am elated to report that I am experiencing a 20% success rate.
Why be happy with a 20% negotiating success rate?
I am finding that probably about 80% of the time I ask the question, I am getting the following response: “Yes, we can’t go any lower because …” I asked when buying a computer – they said no more discounts. I asked when trying to get a discount on a damaged product – they said no more discounts. I asked when purchasing multiple items at a store – they said no more discounts.
Despite only a 20% success rate, here are 3 reasons why I give this negotiating tip the MH4C Seal of Approval:
- I never once felt dumb when someone said “Yes, that is the best we can do.” In fact, often times I think the sales person was embarrassed to say they couldn’t do any better. Thus, the emotional cost might be a 1 – 2 on a scale of 10. It’s not a big deal to ask the question.
- While my success rate is only about 20%, if I were to compare this percentage to the alternative of not asking the question, I am now experiencing 20% more success at negotiating for purchases.
- Over the last few months I have saved about $300 for asking the question about a dozen times. Hey, in my books that’s a pretty good savings. How many other questions can earn you an average of $25 per question.
Three success stories:
After discovering our home had dry wood termites I contacted a couple of pest control companies. They both gave us the same price quote. One company offered some additional pest services while the other offered a longer warrantee period. I called the company with the shorter warrantee period and explained the situation and asked if they could do any better on their quote. We ended up getting three additional months of warrantee on the product as well as a complimentary second visit – just because I asked.
Right now I’m working at helping some missionaries (myself included) renew their work permits. Our law firm sent us a quote. Because of my negotiating phobia I love email negotiating (which I recognize is much less effective than fact to face). I sent an email back after we got the quote and said, “Can you do any better with the price?” We received an email back and the firm dropped 10% off the price – a savings of just over $200.
Kudos to Papa Ford
About a month ago my dad was flying internationally from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles. The airline had changed his flight itinerary which required him to rebook some connecting flights. When he arrived to check in, dad politely explained his situation (the flight change and implications) and asked if they might be willing to offer a complimentary upgrade. They agreed and he got to coast across the Pacific in a higher flight class.
30 Day Negotiating Challenge
Over the next month, any time you shop for a non-typical item just ask, “Is that the best you can do?” If you judge your success by one or two positive responses, then I guarantee you will find that the simple question saves money and does not cause a lot of emotional discomfort.
Photo by Mel B.