When most people think about negotiations, they tend to think about corporate mergers, acquisitions and multi-million dollar business deals. For the most part, we don’t see negotiation as a part of our everyday lives; that is, unless you’re an attorney.
As consumers, we buy products and services for dollars and cents, and that’s it. Think about it. How many business establishments exist where we walk in and don’t automatically accept the price at face value? The price is posted or printed on the product, and that’s the amount we pay, right?
Allow me to suggest
But, have you ever noticed that—on tons of products—there’s an area on the packaging that reads, “Suggested Retail Price?” This means that the store bought it for less and is selling it to you at a mark-up. Once it’s purchased by the business, there’s actually quite a bit of wiggle room in the “suggested” price. Case in point: businesses occasionally put products on sale and yet they somehow still make money. But, you got it on sale for a steal of a deal!
As consumers, we know that stores buy for less and sell for more. That’s Business 101. Even if you’ve never taken a business course, you likely know that’s how businesses make a profit. For some reason, though, we typically ignore our ability as consumers to have a say in the price—we just accept the quoted price as the price because that’s what we perceive as socially acceptable. But, should it really be that way?
In many countries, negotiating over everyday purchases is commonplace. So, what’s to stop you from unleashing your inner negotiator and maximizing your hard-earned dollars? What does it take? You must be willing to ask.
You’ve got to ask
It’s really that simple. Most of us have a strong fear of being told no. Hey, I get it. I don’t like being told no, either. But, do you know what I like a lot more than being told no? The answer: getting a freaking sweet deal!
If you’ve ever negotiated before, you likely know that throwing out a price point sets an anchor for your negotiation. From there, you can then start to play between your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, your Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Settlement and your Walk Away Point. Those are all great. But, none of those things matter if you never muster up the courage to simply ask for a better deal.
So, give it a try! Next time you’re in line at Starbucks, ask if there are any discounts or promotions going on that they can give you. Or maybe don’t at Starbucks…you don’t want that barista going off on you. When you find a hotel online that you like, give them a call and ask them if they can beat the online price. For each booked room, they have to pay all of those travel sites a fee. They’d much rather deal with you directly.
Those are just a few examples, but there are opportunities each and every day where even the smallest attempt at negotiating can benefit you. And, once you’ve had some success, the fear of being told no virtually disappears. I mean, yes, they could say no. But then again, they could also say yes.
About the Author:
Kara Richstone is a program manager for the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. She is a certified mediator with the state of Texas and has a master’s degree in conflict management and dispute resolution from SMU; but, her loyalty remains with the Baylor Bears, where she obtained her undergraduate degree in marketing. She and her husband, Brett, currently reside in Richardson, and they would spend every day traveling if possible. You can connect with Kara on LinkedIn or Twitter.