By Pam Kramer
Posing this simple, straightforward question nudges the seller to make the first offer. "If you, the buyer, state a price at the outset, you hurt your bargaining power because the amount can only go up from there," says Michael Soon Lee, coauthor of Black Belt Negotiating: Become a Master Negotiator Using Powerful Lessons from the Martial Arts (Amacom). "If she won't budge and you have to throw out a number, start really low so you can still go back and forth before settling on a figure."
$mart Strategy: Spend a few minutes chatting up the salesperson before you attempt to open negotiations. She will be more inclined to make a deal if she has already invested time in you."It's nice, but I can take it or leave it."
Never let on to a salesperson that you've fallen in love with something -- even if you're head over heels. This knowledge makes him more likely to insist he has no wiggle room on the marked price because he knows you won't want to leave without it, according to Max Edison, author of How to Haggle: Professional Tricks for Saving Money on Just About Anything (Paladin Press). So play it cool, cruise the aisles, and look at lots of different products while you wait for an employee to approach you. When he does, politely mention a feature that you don't like about the item, then ask for a discount. Be prepared to walk away if the seller won't come down in price. Most of the time he'll stop you and agree to a lesser amount.
$mart Strategy: Casually mention that you'd be happy to refer friends if he will work with you on lowering the price.