Haggling with Customers – Be Prepared for People Who Want to Bargain
© by Cindy Cherrington; all rights reserved
It may come as a surprise, but haggling with customers who want to bargain over your prices is something you will probably have to deal with sometimes when selling your jewelry.
I don’t consider myself quick witted or a fast thinker, so I’m not good with surprises or situations that catch me off guard.
So if you’re anything like me, when you get to shows you need to be prepared for all kinds of questions that can come from your customers.
What is Haggling?
Haggling is the process of negotiating the price of an item with the intent of getting a better deal than the stated price.
Many people assume artists’ prices are flexible, and that bargaining is part of shopping at a show or festival.
If you haven’t considered ahead of time how you’ll respond to customers who want to haggle, you may be offended when someone tries to bargain with you, or find yourself agreeing to a price reduction that you’ll regret later.
Here are some tips for dealing with this scenario.
To Haggle, or Not to Haggle?
There is always so much going on during shows, especially if you do them by yourself, that just greeting the public and striking up conversations and interest in your jewelry is a big enough task.
Think about what you would do if a customer wanted to negotiate over your price on a piece of jewelry. What would you say if they asked for a better deal?
I find that men want to haggle more than women, especially at festivals, asking for a “better price”. If you’re not willing to haggle, they toy with the piece and convince their wife to wait and “look around and come back later.”
If you haven’t been asked for a “good deal” at one of your shows yet, you will. It seems at least twice a year I get asked for discounts.
Decide ahead of time what your policy is regarding haggling or reducing your prices, and be prepared with some standard answers when someone asks.
Don’t let a slow sales day be your guide for an answer. You’ll end up kicking yourself after the show.
Alternatives to Reducing Your Prices
What about the shopper who asks, “Would you give me a deal if I buy more than one? So if I buy four would you double the deal?”
Would you come down in price, or would you direct them to a different item that is more reasonably priced – or would you just flat out say “No,” feeling a little insulted?
It’s always good to be prepared for this situation. Instead of lowering your prices when customers want to haggle, you can consider other options that are a better deal for you.
How about a free pair of earrings that match one of those pendants, or a free chain or leather choker which literally cost you only a couple of dollars?
“Free” always sounds better to the customer than $3 or $5 off, anyway.
Don’t be afraid to just say “No” when people ask for a lower price.
Lots of times they really want the item and will buy it at the full price anyway, but they ask for a discount because they lose nothing by trying.
Or if they won’t buy the piece at full price, another customer will come along who is more than willing to pay your stated price.
Try countering their request for a discount with an offer for more merchandise than they inquired about.
If they want a discount for buying two wire wrapped pendants, counter with “Buy two pendants and a sterling choker for $10 off.” The silver choker I didn’t make, so the value is what I paid for it.
As long as the price on the choker is 3 or 4 times what I paid for it, I still make money without devaluing my jewelry, and the customer gets a good deal.
Complete the Transaction Immediately
If you do make a deal with your customer, make sure they complete the transaction and take the jewelry immediately.
Don’t let them come back later during the show, after they have shopped around and tried their technique with everyone else. You won’t remember what deal you made with them.
I actually did have a customer do that to me.
A couple wanted to buy several wine stoppers as gifts. This was my wine stoppers’ first show, and I was still struggling to find just the right selling price.
I countered their offer, and then they walked away to “think about it” – something I didn’t expect.
By the end of the show, they came back, ready to purchase at the deal price. Again, I didn’t expect them back so I kept to the offer.
But I will not do that again.
I should have said, “This is a ‘buy now’ offer. Once you leave, it no longer applies.”
But with everything else that’s going on during a show, it’s hard to think quickly in an unexpected situation.
Be Ready for Hagglers
The best way to be prepared for anything your customers might ask is to review possible scenarios before every show, so you’ll be ready with an answer and a solution.
It’s a good idea to know:
* your negotiating policy
* your merchandise and its cost
* the lowest price you would be comfortable with accepting
* what add-on item you’d be willing to throw in instead of giving a discount
* a few practiced responses to hagglers’ questions.
Don’t be caught stammering and stuttering when customers want to haggle, or feel insulted that they’re trying to pay less than the full price for your jewelry.
Smile, take a deep breath, and remember your preparation before each show.