Negotiation professors Charles Craver and Linda Babcock recommend practicing the art of negotiation at every opportunity. In fact, they suggest creating opportunities to negotiate where seemingly none exist.
Here’s how I put their recommendation into action.
Over the years, I have been invited to a series of potluck dinners by my friend, the restauranteur. My dilemma, of course, was always what to take to a potluck hosted by a renowned cook. No point cooking, right? Instead, I have relied on taking a bottle of Old Raj, a distinctive gin favored by her husband. It is distilled with saffron. The result is a slightly orange-ish color and a different subtle but piquant taste. (Hey, I live in Northern California. You’re lucky I didn’t say oaky with a nose of pear.)
As is too often the case, on this occasion I left the purchase of the Old Raj until the last minute. It’s a little hard to find. Even in San Francisco, it’s only carried by a few stores. My office is downtown, where there are even fewer retail outlets available. In prior years, I had bought it from a discount wine store, but it was too far away from my office to get to before the dinner. So I went to a liquor purveyor downtown. I was aghast at the price: $65!
O.K., I said to myself, no time like the present. I waited to approach the salesman until the last customer had left the cash register. Holding the Old Raj and my credit card in hand, I said,
“I can get this bottle for $55 at the wine store. Can I buy it from you right now for $60?”
He looked at me, paused, and said, “Yes, I think we can give you an in-store discount.” He then rang it up for me with a 10% discount. I did even better than I had asked for!
The end result: I paid more than the wine store’s price, but I didn’t have time to go there. I got what I wanted, when I wanted it, at a reduced price from the stated price. The store got a sale versus no sale.
Win-win in action.
The secret is….ASKING.
We Americans tend to believe the stated price at a retail store is the price. Not necessarily. You can practice your negotiation skills every day by asking retail establishments:
Is this your cash price?
Is this your best price?
Is this your price if I buy it right now?
Try it and let me know how it goes.