Bargaining is no time to be shy. Embarrassment stops others. But negotiating isn't something to be ashamed of, says pawnbroker Max Edison of Albert Lea, Minn., author of the book How To Haggle: Professional Tricks For Saving Money On Just About Anything.
"The worst that can happen is that someone says no," Edison says. What often holds people back, he adds, is the fear of appearing foolish. And that's what sellers, including Edison, hope for. "I set my prices fully expecting people are going to haggle," he says. "When they don't, I make more profit." -- Consumer Reports
Above and beyond getting technical knowledge is the hard to quantify "people skill" of dickering. Dickering skills can take years to develop. Part of this is learning how to "read" the face and body language of the gent on the other side of the table. How anxious is he to unload something that he has, or to acquire something that you have? How quick they are to make or accept an offer is a key indicator. And if there is a savvy trader sizing you up, you have to learn to keep a "poker face", not revealing how excited you are to see a particular item being offered.
Take your time in carefully examining any item offered to you. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it gives you the opportunity to spot any flaws, defects or signs of wear on the item being offered. Secondly, the more time that you spend examining the item will lead the seller to subconsciously start to doubt the value of what he is offering. If you're in a flea market or gun show situation once you have an item in your hands you are essentially free to examine it without fear of someone else buying it. Take your time!
If you make an offer for an item, and it is rejected or the counter offer made is ridiculously low than the very best thing you can do is put the item back down on the table. This psychologically distances you from the item, and again, makes the seller begin to doubt it's value. In the dickering process one of the most valuable phrases that you can use is "Is that the best you can do?" If the seller won't budge, and you are close to an acceptable price, the next best thing to do is to offer to sweeten the deal with additional goods offered on your side of the bargain. If you still can't reach an agreement it probably wouldn't hurt to subtly talk down the value of what's being offered to you, and talk up the value of what you are offering. "This is a mighty fine widget it's too bad about this crack and this wear... If it weren't for that, I think your asking price would be fair."
The next most valuable thing you can learn to say is to say nothing. After making an offer and receiving a counter offer, silently start counting to twenty. There is something about a long pause that causes all but the most stalwart dickerer to want to fill that silence And nine times out of ten, they will fill that silence with another offer, usually one that is more agreeable.
As a last resort, if you are still at an impasse in reaching an mutually-agreeable trade, your tool of last resort is to thank the seller and start to walk away from the table. This will be your final gauge of just how anxious the seller is to move his merchandise. If you hear "Wait, wait, wait, come back here...", then you know that the seller still has room to negotiate on price or quantities. Keep in mind however, that this is a dangerous tactic. Once you walk away from a table without he seller voicing objection, but return later, you have subconsciously boxed yourself into the previously-offered price. If you come back later for the same item, the seller will know that you are anxious to purchase it, and did not find a better deal for a comparable item elsewhere, so they'll probably hold to the same price.
When selling, keep in mind that you can negotiate downwards, but not upwards. Always make your initial asking price somewhat higher than what you really want out of it. Some people will not agree to even a good deal, unless they can extract at least one price concession from you. So, set a fairly high price, and then negotiate downward.
If your counterpart brings an item to offer to you, but that item is of no interest to you, always thank him for his time: 'Thanks, but I'm not interested in that right now. Do you have any X available?", describing what you are looking for in trade. Remember, a sales venue is an opportunity to gather information about other items a seller may have available, but may not physically have with them. It may not hurt to make arrangements to see them at the next event, reminding them to bring those items so you can make a deal next time.
Read more useful tips from Survival Blog.
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"Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance." -- Sun Tzu