Nick's Notes

Ask and you may get

I am frequently surprised by how accommodating people and businesses are. Contrary to popular opinion of “computer says no” I think we are in an era of more flexibility than many people recognise.

Whether buying a major item or smaller, whether taking on a service or subscription you can often find a deal. In part the challenge comes from finding a way to have the conversation, especially online. There the rules are rather more embedded, although discount codes abound and can usually be found with a simple search. If not call the sales line, if there is one. With insurance comparison sites it is incredible how much lower the price can be if you ring the organisation direct after having armed yourself with the various quotes returned.

In store staff are very accommodating. I’m surprised frequently by how the simple question “is that the best price?” elicits the response, “let me look”. There may be a trade-off, but you can judge the value to you of that. What frequently holds us back is “British reserve”. Be invisible, don’t make a fuss, is the default setting for many Brits. Get over that and much becomes possible.

Asking a few simple apparently innocent questions as part of the dialogue when buying a bigger item can get great results. Sales people are very susceptible to sales techniques. Perhaps this isn’t surprising – after all they base their livelihood on being able to convince other people, so they are already in a mindset that says this works. You will notice how a sales person asks more general questions than just about the product you are interested in. They are looking for hooks to bring you in, connect you to a greater sense of how the thing you are interested in will enhance your perception of yourself. You should do the same in a conversational way too. Be comfortable engaging finding out a little about them, and then you can ask the useful questions like how the general sales environment is, and how well their month or quarter is going. They are much more likely to do a deal if they can get to quota as it is likely to give them considerable personal benefit.

It also amazes me how much information is easily available to see if you only just look. If someone needs to go “to look” if a deal is available follow them to their work area or office. Whiteboards are brilliant – I have seen in a car dealership the gap to plan for the year by person, and knowing it was near the end of their financial year got a very good deal on a new car.
So amongst the many people to talk with in your organisation can I suggest another set? Go and talk with your sales team. Learn some techniques they use and see if you can use them when negotiating to buy something either as part of your job or personally. Get comfortable with asking naturally and you will find a great willingness to accommodate reasonable requests.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask your sales team what is the hardest thing for them to handle. They may well tell you that it’s people who don’t react, don’t engage and so give them no hook to hang a conversation on. That comes in very useful to counter cold calls when you really don’t want to buy.

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