“It’s just five bucks.” said the man interested in buying an older refrigerator from me this past week. This was after he spent a few minutes trying to build his case as to why he should get it for $60. I replied that I wanted full price, as there were others interested as well. He then went up to $70. I held firm. Obviously annoyed, he then told me he didn’t have the right change. I opened my wallet and told him that I had change for whatever he could throw my way. (Tip: Always bring lots of change with you into the garage so as to prevent you having to leave the person alone in your garage while you go in to get change. You don’t want things to show up missing.) A few minutes later we loaded the refrigerator into his truck and he was gone. I got full asking price.
That five dollars represented over 5% of my profit on the item. That might sound insignificant, but if I allow each buyer to talk me down that much, it adds up fast! Through my experience buying, I usually am able to talk people down 20-50% on their list price, sometimes more. It’s kind of expected in the craigslist culture to get an item for less than the list price. As a seller who relies on the profits from my sales for my income, I’ve had to rethink negotiating. Losing even 5% per transaction, for me amounts to thousands of dollars in lost profit each year.
When I first started buying and selling I would give in a little bit almost every time. I was probably losing 10-20% on each sale. Part of that is due to inexperience and a lack of confidence in demand. I used to be desperate for buyers, always thinking that the person in front of me was going to be the last buyer on earth.
There will always be someone else that will buy your item. You must remember this. It might take another day. It might be an hour. If you are getting calls on your item then you probably have it priced right. If it’s priced too high, you won’t even get calls. Once this has become entrenched in your thinking, you will get to the point where you don’t need the first person to buy your item. You don’t need the second. What you need is your full asking price for the item.
“He who needs the other person the least is in control of the relationship.” said J. Dobson, in his book, Love must be tough.
This is incredibly good business and negotiating advice. Whoever needs the other person (or goods) the least, is in control. Why? Because if this person doesn’t buy it for full price, someone else will. That means you don’t need this person to buy your item.
What are my responses when people try to talk me down?
I’ll give you more real examples. Tire kicking is a common method that people use to get a price down by pointing out all of it’s flaws. First, you already knew all of it’s flaws and priced it accordingly and listed the most important flaws in your listing. In spite of that, they are still interested enough to drive all the way to your house. They want your item. If you didn’t agree to a lower price over the phone, call their bluff and hold firm on the price. They have invested a lot of time and gas in coming over to your house, and I’ve found that even if you don’t lower your price, 90% of the time they will still buy it. If they keep bringing up the issues, tell them you factored that into your price. Don’t get too chatty with people when they are tire kicking. Let them tire kick. Just stand there looking at the item. When it comes down to the moment of truth and they give their final offer, tell them that you might be willing to accept it….in a few more days, but not yet. Remind them that you just listed it and are going to wait a little longer before lowering the price.
Another common occurrence is the low-baller. They will come in, look at the item and ask you right away if you will take half price. Your initial response is key. Assertively reply that your not going to lower the price yet. They will up their offer some. Tell them no, sorry. They might try a third offer. Tell them you can’t do it. If they have no shame, they will offer you a fourth offer at which point you need to tell them that you actually need to get back to what you were doing. They will either break down and buy it at this point or they will leave. Either is ok.
There’s also the “I’ve only got $13 with me.” person. To this person, just kindly point them to the nearest ATM. They might have that much on them because they left the rest of their money in the car or hidden in their wallet. Both situations I’ve seen multiple times. A hilarious example of this was at our garage sale. The couple was trying to talk us down on some clothes (which we really wanted to get rid of) and we countered their offer. They responded that they only had $13 We told them sorry. So they put some items back to bring the amount lower. As they were about to leave 10 minutes later, they spotted a few more things that they really wanted! It was then they pulled out a hundred dollar bill to pay for the newly found items, completely forgetting they only had $13! Other times they will go out to “check to see if they have more money in the car” after I’ve called their bluff. It’s amazing how often people will find large amounts of money hidden in their car!
“I’ll bring you the rest of the money when I get my paycheck.” To which you tell them to give you a call after the money arrives and see if you still have the item. Never sell after only partial payment.
“Would you take $50 and my Xbox?” If you didn’t ask for a partial trade in your ad, don’t accept one when it’s offered to you. You don’t need the item they are offering you anyway.
The next time someone says “It’s just $5”, picture your family in Hawaii surfing. 5-20% each time will add up very quickly and could pay for a very nice vacation for you and your family. Are you going to let this person take away your vacation? 🙂
I’d love to hear some of the techniques people have tried with you guys, especially the funny ones! Shoot me a message or comment and I’ll add them over time.