When asking for a discount (or a raise) fails

Written by Paul on September 8th, 2008

I have a friend that recently bought a used car at full price. His excuse: “I asked for a discount but they didn’t give it to me so I gave up.” Sure, he could probably stand to learn a little bit about better negotiating but there is a better way to get a better deal.

It’s no secret that most people have a hard time talking about money — just look at how many bloggers write about ways to ask for raises at work or save $100 on your next purchase. Sure, it’s great if people use the advice but most people won’t, so why keep beating the proverbial dead horse?

The point is not to avoid asking for the discount but to know exactly what to do when that tactic fails.

The art of asking for more

Next time you’re negotiating, try asking for more. I use this tactic when buying cars, dealing with vendors or bargaining with street merchants and it works every time — despite what you might believe, most businesses would much rather give you something more than reduce the price. When your request gets shot down, don’t walk away pissed off — ask for something more: get them to throw in something else. (Tip: If you’re buying a car, you can usually get floor mats and your first few service visits absolutely free — ask for them after you think you’ve gotten the price as low as you can go.)

What businesses are thinking

At a 10% discount, a typical firm would need to sell 50% more units to keep the same profit on the bottom-line. Costs also increase in the “discount” game, so companies can literally discount themselves out of business. Instead of cutting cash out of the deal, they’d rather add value to whatever you’re buying — this “value added” proposition means they can “give away” something that won’t come out their profits. Done right, it adda to the customer’s experience and that’s the key to getting that customer back.

Oh, and one more thing

Use this tip when you’re negotiating your next pay raise. If the conversation gets bogged down before you get to the number you want, start asking for other perks instead — extra vacation days, telecommuting perks or educational reimbursements. It’s all fair game.

3 Responses to “When asking for a discount (or a raise) fails”

  • Great advice. It doesn’t hurt to ask for more. I’ve gotten flexible work weeks in previous jobs.

    — 09/08/08 at 3:08 pm

  • Samir

    Great advice. I totally agree with you on this. Maybe it’s the frugal Indian in me speaking, but I always try to look for a way to get a discount. This goes from buying small ticket items to larger priced items, from my cell phone bill to my voip phone bill, the list goes. It surely doesn’t hurt to ask and is always worth a shot. Worst case you will hear “no”. The advice on asking for things at work does in fact work really well. Most places will do anything to keep a talented employee around. Plus you gotta consider that it’s easier for an employer to work with you and keep you rather than hiring a new employee who they would have to train. Heck if your boss always says no, then move on and look for another job. Great tips!

    — 09/08/08 at 7:14 pm

  • I was recently in a negotiation and after hearing their “final offer” I asked one more time for some extra “stuff” that wasn’t completely necessary but was better for me in the long run and after 3 minutes of waiting they said “Yep, we can do that, do we have a deal?”

    — 09/12/08 at 9:59 pm

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