You're in the market for a new television, and you spot a great flat-screen model. It's the right size and the latest technology―but the price is too steep. Do you splurge or walk away? The answer: neither. Instead, find a salesperson and start negotiating. In today's buyer's market, virtually everything, everywhere, is negotiable, and landing a bargain is not as difficult as you might think. Whether you're a novice, nervous or simply unsure how to strike a deal, this guide tells you what you need to know.
LEARN THE GROUND RULES
Use smart strategies to land a deal on practically anything.
1. Identify your limit. Come up with three reasonable figures: your wish price (what you'd consider an amazing deal), your goal (what you're willing to pay) and your price ceiling (you won't pay a penny more). Name your wish price to begin, and don't go past your limit.
2. Research prices. Before you set foot in a store or on a car lot, or meet with a contractor, do your homework. Search the Internet for the price range of the item or service you're looking for. Print out related ads and note competitors' prices. Bring the figures with you. The knowledge can help you be a smarter haggler.
3. Be friendly and remain polite. A nice attitude and a smile can go a long way. Think of it as a game. You're more likely to have fun and to reach a good deal if you engage in a little give-and-take. However, you don't want to make a big show of it, so find a quiet place to chat.
4. Negotiate with the right employee. The salesperson says she can't lower the price? Ask to speak to the manager. Higher-ups tend to be more concerned with customer retention than their own commission, so they're easier to talk to.
5. When in doubt, just say no. Don't get too attached to an item, or feel that you owe the seller. If you're not getting the price you want, leave.
6. Use silence. Listen 70 percent of the time and talk only 30 percent. If you don't quickly respond to an offer, the seller might sweeten the deal or blurt out something you can use to your advantage, such as, "Actually, we're having a sale next week."
7. Play it cool. Your heart might be set on a certain home-theater system, but don't let on. Look over several models before gesturing to your favorite and saying, "This one's all right. I might be interested if you come down a bit on the price." If you seem uncommitted, the salesperson is more likely to give you a deal on the model you want.