EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 23, 2007

If you REALLY want it, I'll drop my price

I went to the National.

I collect sports memorabilia and the National is the place where everyone who is a serious collector or dealer goes. People fly in from all over the world to buy and sell every kind of sports collectible imaginable. And 50 sports celebrities are there signing autographs (for a fee).

I got there early because I'm not just a collector; I'm a fanatic. And I wanted to get the jump on all the other collectors who might seek to purchase what I want to purchase - proving that fear of loss is greater than desire to gain.

One of the most interesting elements of the National is that each of the dealers (more than 500 of them) has their own museum. Collectibles dating back to the turn of the century. Every form of ball, bat, glove, helmet, card, jersey and autograph are available. Prices range from 1 cent to $100,000.

When I go to a dealer's booth, I look very carefully at the items for sale. If I like one, I ask the price - even if it's marked on the item.

As you know, asking, "How much is it?" is the second biggest buying signal on the planet. "I'll take it," being the first.

Once I ask this question, every element of salesmanship is revealed. I've basically told the seller that I want to buy what he's offering. How much more of a signal can I throw out? More than 90 percent of the sellers will say something like, "I'm asking $150 for it, but I'll give it to you for $100."

Now maybe this is a ploy on the part of the seller to make me feel like I'm getting a bargain, but the bottom line is he just cut his price by one third as an incentive for me to buy.

BUT, my real incentive was I wanted it.

And I was willing to pay $150 for it. Holy Cow!

A small percentage of the dealers will say, "I'm asking $150." And I'll say, "Is that your best price?" Or I'll say, "Is that your cash price?" And then the bargaining begins.

But there are a small handful of dealers who will look me straight in the eye and tell me that $150 is their firm price. And you know what? I pay it. The same guy who reduced his price by 1/3 could have had more money if he had just changed his language, if he had just changed his manner, if he had more self-confidence or belief in what he was offering, or if he hadn't developed the habit over the years of having to bargain, dicker or haggle over the price with each customer.

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