How you can do it: Be explicit about what you’ll be providing. Just don’t overdeliver, says Gates: “Consider your real costs, the time it will take, and make sure you’re setting up an equal trade. Then create a contract that specifies what you’ll do, in what time frame and what exactly you will get in return.”
5. Bide your time
What she wanted: Sara Tetreault of Portland, Oregon, needed a dental crown, but it cost $1,070. “I thought, This isn’t an emergency; I’m going to wait on it,” she says. Three months after her initial visit, she got a letter from her dentist offering 15 percent off the procedure. Emboldened, Tetreault waited two more months, then called the office to see if she could get an even better price. “I told the receptionist that $909 is still a lot of money,” she says, and offered $750. The receptionist replied that the number was a little low but, after checking with the dentist, said they would take an additional 5 percent off the already discounted price, bringing the total to about $860. “I got it done, and I’m thrilled with the results,” says Tetreault.
How you can do it: It’s important to connect with someone who has the authority to make decisions, says Stuart Diamond, a Wharton business professor and the author of Getting More. “Ask about their day, compliment their shoes,” he says. “When you make a human connection with someone, they’re six times more likely to give you what you ask for.”
6. Bring in more customers
What she wanted: Ginny Scales--Medeiros of Santa Rosa, California, got $300 knocked off the original $1,700 quote for CoolSculpting, a fat-reducing procedure. “I exercise every day, but as I got older I started gaining around the waist,” she says. She told the office staffer at the cosmetic surgeon’s office what she was willing to pay and pitched her social media experience, saying she would hype the company on Facebook and Twitter (as long as she liked the results, of course). After she made her offer, she fell silent. “The first person who talks gives something up,” she says. The staffer agreed to the discount, and Scales-Medeiros, delighted with her results, praised the company all over the Internet. “It was the best money I ever spent,” she says.
How you can do it: Say you will recommend the business on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you’re pleased with your purchase, says Gates. Or say you’ll use good old-fashioned word of mouth. “This is how women make decisions anyway,” she points out. “We ask one another, ‘Who cuts your hair? Who does your nails?’ ”
Rebecca Webber is a freelance writer who lives in New York City.