How to Negotiate Like a Pro

Handshake of business partners, when signing documents.

I recently relocated to a large city. One of the first things I learned while touring apartments, high rises, mid-rises, condos, and everything in between was this: Everything is negotiable. I never considered myself a savvy negotiator until I was signing my lease papers. As stated in my lease, I was paying $100 less each month than the advertised price, waiving $150 in “application” fees, saving $350 in pet fees, and extending their 4 weeks free rent promotion to 6 weeks.

Needless to say, I walked away with a spring in my step–and a few tips to share.

1) Do your research.

You’ll need to do a bit of research before you start to negotiate. This will give you a starting point. Once I finally decided on a place, I did a little research and discovered that they had a higher than average vacancy rate. This was probably the reason I was able to get fees waived and promotions extended. This often applies to cars as well. If the dealer is asking more than the fair market value or the dealership is trying to clear the lot for new inventory, they’re more likely to come down.

2) Be observant.

If you want to negotiate the price of something down, look for things that might detract from the value. I once found a skirt that I loved, but it was missing a button (something that was easily fixed). Because they didn’t have any others in my size, I asked the manager if she would discount the price. She took 20% off!

3) Consider alternatives.

Let’s say you want a raise, but your boss says it’s not in the budget this quarter. Consider asking for other perks, like extra vacation days or flexible hours. Or, if you’ve been bumped from an overbooked flight, ask for the airline to reschedule your next flight in first class. I once had a friend who called to cancel his cable service because he didn’t like the channel line-up. Instead of losing a customer, the cable company negotiated with him by offering several free premium channels.

4) Be nice.

Whatever you do, don’t argue, whine or insult the seller. Saying things like, “There’s no way this piece of junk is worth what you’re asking!” or “It’s not fair that I work harder than everyone else”  will get you nowhere.

Negotiating doesn’t have to be intimidating or even difficult. Just do your research, be reasonable, and stay calm, and both parties will walk away feeling like they’ve gotten a good deal.

Posted in: Business, Career and Work, Saving Money

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