Asking for A Discount


by Stephanie Berenbaum – August 18, 2010

Why the Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil

A conversation with my friend Mel the other day got me thinking: why don’t more women ask for discounts and deals?

Mel was on the phone with a local boutique pizza place, ordering numerous pies for a party.  The price given to her was so exorbitant for their ‘gourmet style’ pizza, that Mel found herself wondering aloud, “You know, maybe I should just call Dominoes instead.”  With that, she was put on hold for a nanosecond, and the voice on the other end told her they could give her a better price – like how about cutting the original price quoted to her in HALF?? Mel was thrilled – she was getting her favorite pizza at a great price, and she hadn’t even really meant to ask for the discount!  But remember – the pizza place was thrilled too – they didn’t want to lose out on a big order – and I am sure they were still making money on the price they gave her.

So Mel’s experience got me thinking – what kind of results could we get if we simply asked up front for discounts – WHEN APPROPRIATE (more on this later)?  And the more intriguing question really is: why do so many women feel uncomfortable asking for discounts and/or negotiating price in the first place?

If there was ever a time to get comfortable with the ‘big ask’, it’s now.  It has become chic to be frugal, unlike back in the 80s when I was growing up.  I recall back in the heyday of Dynasty one of my friends calling me  – from a pay phone at a grocery store no less (remember this was before cell phones and email) to tell me how mortified she was because her mother was in there with a million coupons.  I actually remember being sort of mortified for her.  There was no cache to having coupons back then – just the stigma!

Ok, So Why Don’t Women Just Ask?

Fear of seeming cheap – We all need an attitude adjustment on this – it is not cheap to be responsible about where and how you spend your money.  This may sound like an extreme example, but one of my friends bought a discount salon treatment through Groupon – and then felt funny about bringing in the Groupon certificate to get the discount! Hello – that is the whole point of Groupon, right?!

Fear of confrontation -Many women are people pleasers.  Maybe you’re one of them. Have you ever thought about using this skill to your advantage while negotiating?  If you feel a need to always make those around you comfortable and happy, try using that to your financial advantage!  Take the approach that you are providing them with a great opportunity: “I just love your store and would love more than anything to give you this sale!”  Kill them with kindness, and then you can satiate your need to be a pleaser and a frugal shopper – all in one!

How To Ask…

You may not be a professional singer, but let’s for a moment discuss vocal techniques.  Women have a tendency to end everything with a question mark – which can make you seem wishy-washy, even when, yes, you are asking a question.  Please, ladies, beware of sounding sheepish – it gives the impression that you are trying to get away with something. Not exactly what you were hoping to convey, right?! Being friendly, direct and confident goes along way in life, and is crucial when it comes to asking for a deal. Something like this: “Hi there! (big smile) I noticed the ground turkey is closing in on it’s expiration date -luckily I have 6 kids at home clamoring for turkey tacos! Any chance you can make me a deal to take the rest of it off your hands?”

The Win-Win

As demonstrated in the above example, the easiest ask  is for the win-win scenario. Food products that will go to waste if not sold? Managers are often happy to give a discount if you’ll buy those peaches that won’t be doing anyone good a couple days from now. It’s worth it to try to create your own ‘manager’s specials’!

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