Haggling is an evolving marketplace skill. In practice, it goes back centuries, to times when the vendor-cart and booths were the only sources of market trading activity and goods exchange. Today, we find that bargain hunting and sale shopping are viable adventures for discounts at retail stores; however, garage sales, auctions, flea markets, and booth sales are prime opportunities to learn the art of haggling. Haggling is often associated with bantering, price debates, and auction-style environments. The (often) uncomfortable, face-to-face negotiations of pricing quickly become competitive, thrilling, and at times, risky. The lure of ‘the best bargain’ is enticing with its accompanying haggling process; the strategy of haggling really is based on simple bargaining roundtable strategies.
Haggling is the exchange system of yesterday that has, in many ways, bought auction sites and price request systems to where they are today. Consider the face of internet giants such as eBay, Priceline.com, and even Amazon.com where buyers can bid auction-style on merchandise, tickets, and other items. In previous days, this usually took place in a community setting and in direct contact with the buyer and trader. Haggling was, and remains, a skill; it requires patience, flexibility, the signature straight face, and the ability to maintain your ‘setpoint’ price in order to win the best deal possible. Haggling requires tact; it doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be a very lucrative and skill-building venture!
Understanding the key components of haggling can help you build a strong set of skills for your bargaining efforts. When you can accurately gauge the seller’s ‘hunger,’ you can gain a significant advantage. Haggling requires understanding your own motive; without your baseline, or ‘setpoint’ price in mind for a particular product, you’ll quickly fall into the trap of being out-priced, or losing the item to a price you may not have had to pay for. Buyer’s remorse is worst felt when you know you could have gotten a better price if you had just been patient, or taken different steps in your strategy. The winning streaks will come with time, but you can best prepare by following these simple steps to a valuable haggling strategy:
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Don’t jump too fast or ‘bite’ at the first round: it’s easy to fall into the cycle of taking the sale as soon as the price is announced, but you MUST remember that the vendor is still open to the possibility, if only minimal, that they will have to lower the price. Keep in mind that the first price declaration always has room for negotiation!
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Learn to bid VERY low: this is a technique that will surprise you more often than not. If you bid extremely low in some cases, the vendor may completely reconsider their first offer. Sometimes this makes them even stop and reflect; maybe they’ve priced too high, and are unaware of the true value; maybe they’ve overlooked something. Whatever the case may be, you can start out by completely undercutting the initial offer, giving you the chance to gauge the sale with better accuracy.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Learn to fake it: A slight shrug, a side-to-side nod, or any gesture that shows a level of disinterest can help you. Consider using it when you are being tempted with an item but the price is out of your range; when the vendor senses they may lose the sale, they are much more likely to consider, or even make a fair and more reasonable offer.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Play the inspector: Make sure to touch, feel, and account for any flaws or legitimate defects on the product. This will provide you a chance for leverage so you can secure a lower price easily.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Learn the Straight Face: Whether it’s a game of poker, making a sale, or closing a deal, you need to know when to put your Straight Face on. This is no joke; any vendor will look for tell-tale signs of your interest; glistening eyes, dilated pupils, eager smiles and expressions. Guard these safely, and you’ll fare better in the long-run. The objective is to be present, aware, and fully in control of your reaction; this needs to be relaxed and natural, so take the time to learn it!
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Choose your own add-ons: this helps to ‘seal the deal’ by creating additional value for you. If the vendor really will not negotiate on price, offer to take it off their hands by adding another item for the same price. This may also help bring down the price just a few notches, depending how desperate they are to sell the item.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Settle for second best: If you’re eyeing an item that the vendor has turned down a bid from another customer, listen in and consider your own pitch. If you can outdo them, go for it! This is your time to put your pricing strategies to the test.
Ã¢Â?Â¢ Learn to speak slowly: Act relaxed, be relaxed, and speak in a relaxed tone. Too fast, and the vendor may be discouraged. Learn to be inquisitive and not pressured; no matter how exciting your object or product may be, give it the same interest level or reaction as others. This will give the vendor the impression that you are just browsing; a non-threatening approach is one of your strongest weapons.
Learning the art and science of haggling takes time; you will need to practice in different environments, with different people, and learn many lessons along the way. Being able to read and accurately gauge people is a learned skill, and haggling is a prime opportunity to be competitive, focused, and deliberate in your actions. Remember that learning the Straight Face is quite possibly your ultimate tool; use it to your advantage when pressed with a difficult situation, or when you find yourself ‘priced’ into a corner. Other key steps and skills can help you create the best pricing and buying situation for you. Don’t ever give up, even at the toughest negotiation; you’ll fare better on your haggling ventures in the long run!