Smart Negotiation For Small Purchases

PurchTips edition #308


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How Smart Is It To Negotiate A Small-Value Order?

Have you ever said to yourself, "I'm not going to negotiate that purchase – it's not worth my time?"

If so, you're not alone. Every day, buyers place small-value orders at list price without negotiating them. Many of those same buyers reserve their time for negotiating larger purchases or more strategic activities.

And directing more time towards activities with the biggest return on investment (ROI) is indeed noble. But ignoring easy opportunities to add to your cost savings total isn't always smart.

For example, if you could save your organization $50 (US) by devoting two minutes of your time to doing so, would you spend the time doing it? If not, consider that the ROI of your time would be equivalent to a rate of $1,500 per hour. Do you get paid $1,500 per hour or more? If not, then utilizing those two minutes to save money produces a positive ROI for your employer.

Obviously, you need to accomplish your highest priorities first. But, while big negotiations require lots of planning, small purchase negotiations sometimes just require that you ask one simple question that results in savings. Here are examples of questions I've used to quickly achieve small savings that have added up over the long term.

  1. How much flexibility do you have with your price?
  2. What discounts are available to my organization?
  3. What's the lowest price you or your manager are able to offer me?

I can't even count the number of times that I've gotten a response like "I can give you a 10% discount." So, in mere seconds, money was saved for my employers in situations where I may have felt too busy to "negotiate."

Try one of these questions the next time that you are tempted to say that negotiating a small-value order isn't worth it. Also, if you have internal customers who place their own small-value orders and aren't exactly professional negotiators, share these questions with them to help them save money, too.

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