High Street Haggling

Dom Littlewood could have been yet another loafer along the never ending yellow brick road of reality tv self-help gurus.  I fell across his current show when seeking visual chewing gum in ever-rarer downtime.  Yet glad of that I certainly was.

In this programme, he aimed to pass on skills of how to haggle on the high street.  I was particularly interested in this, given that my first ever sales trainer taught me how to do the very same thing 15 years or so ago.  As a result of that entertaining aside, I spent most of the 90s making sure that whenever I bought two items, like a shirt & tie, or jeans & t-shirt, I always got a deal on them.  The last time I tried his techniques, I either got a pair of knotted cuff links thrown in with a work shirt, giving me about a 10% saving in London, or got free delivery in Cape Town on kitchen brown goods.  Not vast amounts of money sure, but every little bit helps.  My favourite success was when shopping in Melbourne with a girlie pal of mine and I bet her I could get discount in a trendy clothes store.  I then kitted myself out with her fave bloke gear from Industrie at a ridiculous saving.  But of course, as I’ve grown older, my retail expenditure has declined so my skill has lain dormant for a fair old while.  Maybe it’s time to resurrect it!

I’ll recount Dom’s two tales from London I saw because it gives a cracking insight into what to do when professional buyers ask for discount.  So many reps just cave in immediately.  They rush to give the shop away.  Oftentimes you might be used as a Dutch auction preferred supplier kicker.  Other times, it may just be the buyer needs to look good to their colleagues.  Whichever apply, you should defend your price for as long as possible.

Bike Helmet

Upon finding the desired crash-hat, the first question was ‘”what’s the damage?” £300. A sharp intake of breath preceeds “we can have a deal on that can we?”.  The Aussie lad serving to his credit asked why.  “‘cos I’m paying readdies” and he rubbed in the fact he was a cash buyer.  This elicited 5% off.  Dom turned this into a cash amount, and joked that 15 quid wouldn’t even buy him a croissant ’round there.  A touch of banter was followed by “if your price is good buy I’ll from you today”.  Again the store assistant wisely asked how much Dom was seeking.  So he replied £250.  In the end, the offer rested at a 10% discount, or £270.  £30 a decent return on less than 2 minutes chat.

Dom thought he could do better, so checked out competition. His eyes lit up when they said the desired helmet wasn’t in stock.  He used this as his chief lever.  The ‘best price’ at first was the same 10% off he’d got beforehand.  “I’m looking for better to get juices flowing! Something to get excited about!”  The storekeeper tried to say enough was enough, so Dom reassured with lines like, “profits not a dirty word, I don’t expect something for nothing”  All of a sudden after a subtle pause, £254 appeared (now 15%).  Dom sniffed greater success.  “I was hoping for 20%!” And he got it, albeit with a 2-day lead time.  £300 to £240, a nifty 60 nicker saved.

Full Ice Hockey Kit

Continuing the sport theme, he then got a shy kid to haggle as Dom stayed outside talking through an ear-piece. Firstly, Harry the shop owner’s hopes were raised by building a long list of items.  Totting up revealed £630.  A lot of cash in anybody’s currency. “I like all that but don’t like…, well it’s too much, what can we do?”  The seller joked that we all want money off.  When pressed again (the buyer remained shy in his delivery), the price dropped to £550.  An instant result, yet (with Dom and calculator on hand), he pointed out “that’s only 12%”.  He was offered extra goods, but stuck to his ‘money off’ guns.  The next line was a killer cutie, “it must start with a 4, Harry”.  Harry seemed to choke. “Harry, you know it can start with a 4”.  Not a chance in hell, replied Harry.  “So what is the best you can do?”  Harry fell silent.  “Let’s have 30% and I’ll shake hands right now”.  The nipper kept quiet while Harry tried to do some sums.  Then the rush, “call it 400 and I’ll shake you hands now!”  Harry offered £425 and they both shook hands.  Afterwards, Harry smiled thinking it still a lovely deal and the lad got 36% off.  Brilliant.

The moral of these tales to us reps is twofold.  Firstly, we should be trying out the same thing regularly 🙂  Secondly, understand tactics to maintain the price.  If people don’t discount unless it’s conditional on getting something from the buyer, then what happens in the commoditised retail environment can be avoided in B2B solution sales.

Subscribe to Salespodder

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.