The Lost Art of Haggling

Before credit cards and loans, one of the keys to survival and success for any southern gentleman was haggling. Some people call it negotiating but I think haggling is a the southern word. The better the southern gentleman was at haggling, the more successful he was. There were lots of southern men who were able to build financial empires on the strength of their haggling ability.

Now haggling has become a lost. A big reason is the internet. As much as I like using Amazon, I have to pay their price. Period. But there are places online where you need to know how to haggle. Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are two places you can get a great deal if you know how to haggle.

I think of haggling as second job. Every dollar I’m able to negotiate off of the price, is the same thing as a dollar earned. Well, iff that’s true, why don’t more guys do it?

Why Men Don’t Haggle

Negotiating is for Poor People

If you think that, then you don’t know any rich people. Never forget, they didn’t get rich by paying full price.

Not Worth the Time

Rich people have learned to haggle on the right things. They have determined a haggling threshold, which is when any discount you might get below this line is not worth the time it would take to get. What’s your threshold? Maybe your rule is to haggle for anything that costs more than $100 while Bill Gates number might be $10,000. But the principle is the same.Time is money. Be sure the potential discount is worth the time it will take you to get it.

I’m not Aggressive Enough

Good hagglers aren’t pushy or obnoxious because they know a good negotiation is not an argument. It’s a conversation where two parties are trying to get what they want.

How To Haggle

I believe the biggest reason men don’t haggle is they don’t know how. Here’s a few principles to help you develop your haggling skills:

#1 If Someone Loses, You Did it Wrong

Forget what you’ve seen on TV or in a movie, the best negotiations are where both sides are satisfied with the deal. It’s a win-win scenario not a zero sum game with a winner and a loser. Herb C0hen was named world’s best negotiator and he proved it when he guided the US government through the Iranian hostage, had this to say about what makes a successful negotiation:

“A successful negotiation occurs when both sides discover an outcome they prefer over the status quo”. -Herb Cohen (here’s a great interview with Mr. Cohen)

#2 Know What’s Possible

You need to be sure what you’re offering is reasonable. No store is going to take your offer if it’s less than what they paid for the item.  This is another way the internet has leveled the playing field. In just a few minutes, you can find out either the wholesale price or the typical markups for different industries. Here’s a few examples I found on google in less than 5 minutes.

  • Furniture is marked up 200-400%
  • Gold jewelry 100 to 400%
  • Diamonds 50 to 200%

#3 Cash is King

When it comes to time to close the deal, hundred dollar bills can make all the difference. Why? Cash shows you’re a serious buyer and not just a tire-kicker. Sellers know they have to decide whether or not to say no to a guaranteed sale.

Even if the seller won’t come down on the price, he’s saving the 4-6% credit card transaction fee when you pay cash and should be willing to pass that on to you. If not, then it’s probably time to take your business and cash elsewhere.

#4 Loyalty Pays

Good sales people know it costs more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Let them know you’ve done business with them before and want to do it again. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars from a cable tv provider using this strategy.

#5 Floor Sample

Ask if there’s a discount for buying a floor sample. You can get a really good deal when buying appliances using this strategy. Also, look for units that have a small dent or paint imperfection in a place where it won’t be seen and you’ll save some serious $.

#6 Know When to Shut Up

This one is tough for a guy like me who enjoys haggling but it’s a jedi mind trick that can tilt the deal in your favor. Sometimes a salesman will agree to your offer just to break an awkward silence.

#7 Be Willing to Walk Away

If I had to identify THE key to haggling it’s you must be willing to walk away. You can only do this if you don’t get emotional about the deal. In the word’s of the great haggler, Michael Corleon, it’s not personal, it’s just business.

#8 Ask The Magic Question

If you’re still nervous about how to begin a negotiation, use the magic question “Is that the best you can do?”

But the big take away is don’t be afraid to haggle. The worst thing they can do is say “no”.

Do you have any haggling tips? Share them in the comments