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How to Haggle with Willing Customers

By Michael Soon Lee, Ralph R. Roberts

Customers, especially customers from other cultures, love to haggle. They often revel in the negotiating process and look forward to haggling with a challenging businessperson.

To put yourself on an equal footing with some of the world’s best negotiators, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Haggle with the hagglers. Don’t accept a low-ball offer just to make a sale, and don’t turn away a customer because the low offer insulted you.

  • When a customer pitches a low-ball offer, express shock and dismay. No visible response may send the message that you take the offer seriously.

  • Help the customer save face. Explain that if you accept such a low offer, you’ll lose face with other customers who paid more.

  • Use the illusion of precision. Counter the customer’s offer with a precise dollar amount rather than a round number to send the message that you carefully calculated the price you can afford to accept.

  • Never offer to split the difference. Such an offer only results in disappointing both you and the customer.

  • Manufacture deadlines. Give customers a fixed amount of time to haggle.

  • Don’t focus solely on price and money. You can often throw in extras that cost you less than dropping the price.

  • Nip nibbling in the bud. Don’t agree to throw in extras after you’ve settled on a deal, or the customer will nibble you right out of your profit.

  • Officially end to the negotiating process and short-circuit buyer’s remorse. Congratulate your customer on making a wise purchase decision or investment.