See Through the Spin: How to Score the Best Deals

Whether you’re opening a bank account, taking out health insurance, buying a new car or bartering at a Bali market, knowing how to negotiate a good deal can save you thousands in the long run.

But it’s not always easy.

Sales reps and marketing departments will do everything in their power to separate you from as much of your money as possible, while private sellers might even tell a few porkies to try and get a deal done.

So as an astute buyer and deal hunter, you have to be stronger than the spin.

Getting the best deal requires practice and patience. It’s a mindset, an outlook, hell; it’s a way of life. Here’s how to do it.

1. Hit the books (actually, the internet)

It doesn’t matter what’s on offer; before heading out into the arena to do battle (because negotiation is a battle) you need to be prepared.

A successful negotiator needs power, which in a transaction means they need to know more about what they’re buying and its alternatives than the person selling it.

That’s why the internet is a negotiator’s best friend.

It’s a wealth of information on products, services and businesses, where you can find objective reviews from people who aren’t trying to sell you anything, as well as comparison sites, better offers, or even the first name of the sales rep who’s happy to give a discount.

2. Always negotiate

You know that headline rate a company advertises in a fluffy marketing document, or that first price a sales rep quotes you?

Nine times out of ten it’s a big, fat, con.

And it’s not just the price they’ll move on either, it’s value, too. In fact in many cases it’s possible to negotiate additional features or services above and beyond the initial offer.

That’s because when push comes to shove, most organisations value your business (money) above anything else. And they also know that for every great negotiator there are countless more mugs lining up to pay the rack rate for the base product.

You don’t have to be one of them.


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3. Don’t take the first offer you see                                     

Every sales rep dreams of the customer who can’t be bothered to say no. It just makes their job so much easier.

A strong negotiator will never give in to pressure to do a deal straight away (unless they’re certain it’s the best offer), and will always push back on harassment from the salesperson.

Remember, it’s your money on the line in any transaction, and you’re in control.

4. Leave emotions at the door

Yes, red is your favourite colour, and yes, there’s only one more red car left at the dealership this afternoon, but is that really a reason to sign your life away right here, right now?

When negotiating a better deal, emotions are a buyer’s greatest weakness.

That’s why sales people and marketers play on them relentlessly, reminding you of how good it feels to “drive away today no more to pay”, for example, or “you won’t find a better price anywhere else, guaranteed”.

A great buyer knows to leave their emotions at the door and negotiate on cold, hard facts.

5. Be prepared to walk away

Sometimes, when they’ve tried everything and still can’t get a deal they’re happy with, a great negotiator will just walk away.

For starters, the sight of someone’s back walking out the door puts a lot of pressure onto the seller, who will sometimes come to the table with an eleventh-hour ‘one of a kind’ offer.

But walking away also allows you to think things through, do some more research, have a cup of tea and make a more informed decision about the purchase. It’s all part of the fun.

Image: Fiona MacGinty-O’Neill, via Flickr