Friday, March 7, 2008

5 Ways to Bargain and Win.

From Delhi’s Paalika Bazaar to Linking Road in Mumbai, bargaining is what matters.

If you follow the rules of the art, not only will you save money, you will enjoy little games with the shopkeepers.

First, it is important to always remember that sellers are pretty smart folks, and have honed their art to perfection. They can be as charming as Cleopatra if needed, and are perhaps worthy enough of an entry in Wikipedia.

Games Sellers Play
Let me narrate a story about their psychological games.

A lady walks into a sari store. After enquiring about her budget (range, as they call it), the shopkeeper proceeds to show her a few pieces. She can't seem to decide on buying.

He spots the indecision, and quickly capitalizes on it.

Suddenly, in a PC Sorcar-like act, he pulls out a few saris at a higher price than the range quoted.

As she goes through them, the choice is pretty clear. Sensing the opportunity to seal the deal, the salesman says, "Madam, take the lesser priced range, it suits your budget.

The lady, feeling insulted, "Pack the blue coloured higher priced sari."

"OK Madam," says he, with a wry smile, knowing he's won the game.

We are all bargaining most of the time. Sometimes over which program to watch on TV. At other times over the salary your next company should pay. Many a time, we don't realise that we are bargaining.

But, when we do and learn to communicate, negotiate and close deals better, we become good at the game. Here are a few tips that will stand you in good stead.

Show no Interest in the Product you actually want
When you walk into a bazaar and spot something interesting don't pick it up. Be cool and without much interest enquire the price. Sniffing an opportunity, the shopkeeper will request you to pick it up and feel or read it (in case it's a second-hand bookshop). Pretend as if you'd rather have a painful tattoo on your forehead than buy it at that price.

Now see the price drop. Because you're not the interested buyer, he's the keen seller.

Quote 30 percent less. Always
Yes, you heard me right. Quote 30 percent less than what you're willing to pay. And see what happens. If he begins to drop from the quoted price, then for every Rs 100 he cuts, you hike your price by Rs 20. In the end, if you're patient and play the game well, you could well end up getting it for a song.
Tip: Always make 'em sell. You don't buy.

Learn to Negotiate
Let me walk you through a typical bargain I do at a second-hand bookstore.

Me (pointing to Stephen Covey's Seven Habits, without much interest): How much is that book?
Seller: Rs 150 sir. Please take it and see, sir.
Me (Looking at another book on the other side): It's ok.
Seller (Pursuing an opportunity to push): Tell me your price sir.
Me: (browsing through something seriously): It's too steep.
Seller: Ok, you tell me your price.
Me: Perhaps, Rs 70.
Seller: Rs 70 is too low, sir. The new edition costs Rs 390. Give me Rs 125.
Me: (Shocked as if a rickshaw guy asked me Rs 100 for a one KM ride): Nothing more than Rs 80.
Seller: Let's make it Rs 100.
Me: Thanks. The ELBS edition is Rs 130, did you know?
(I slowly move on towards the next shop.)
Seller (coming after me): Ok take it at Rs 90.
Me: Rs 80 only.
Seller: Ok, here's the book. Any other books you want, sir.

Smiles take you Miles
Always smile as you bargain. It lowers prices like nothing else does. Shopkeepers don't like to sell less to scowling faces.
If you know the stuff you're buying, he'll definitely offer you a good price. That's if you can differentiate between a micro and leather, 100 percent cotton and polycott. Otherwise you’ll get nothing. Zip, zilch, nada.
Tip: Show no great interest. And be in no great hurry to buy.

Never quote your Price
Never put a price to anything you want to buy. Let the seller say his price. Then say it's too high. Seller will come down further. Now put a price, say 30% lesser than what you're willing to pay. Keep negotiating from thereon to the price you're willing to pay, or lesser.
Tip: Closing times are the best times to buy.
In case you're in a strange territory or don't know the language, never put a price to anything you intend to buy. 'cause if you do, the only way to go is UP. Instead, try a few shops and you'll know the approximate price for the product you want to take home.
Tip for the traveler: Never go out and buy things in an unknown place. Check with some locals before buying.

All’s Well in Love and Bargaining
Even if you are not able to close a deal, don't worry. You actually haven't lost. Instead, you have found out a price range to negotiate in the next shop.
Now, are you headed to the bazaar?
Happy bargaining!

Written by KS Rajasekar