ask me for a discountA friend was recently telling me about his latest car buying experience. It had been at the end of a month, and the salesperson had mentioned to him that the dealership only needed to sell another 25 cars in the next couple of days to win a sales volume title.

I laughed hysterically as my friend grinned. He related to me how he squeezed the salesperson and the sales manager for outrageous discounts and a higher trade-in value than he ever dreamed possible.

By sharing the dealership’s goals and incentives, the salesperson had invited my friend to negotiate much more aggressively than he would have otherwise. And while the dealership did make the sale, they made a lot less profit than they could have made.

Every day, salespeople, business owners and professionals unwittingly encourage prospects to ask for discounts, resulting in lost margins. Making a sale with a decent profit margin is difficult enough without asking prospects to make it harder for us.

So avoid unintentional giveaways like these:
• “We’re really slow right now.”
• “We have a lot of these in stock.”
• “It’s been a tough month.”
• “We’re coming to the end of our model year.”
• “I’m new.”
• “Well, the list price is…”
• “Heck, we can start today.”
• “It’s not a very popular model.”
• “We’ll do whatever it takes to earn your business.”

When talking with prospects, you want to project confidence, not desperation. Even if you’re totally lacking in the former and drowning in the latter. Because if prospects believe you’re desperate for the sale, they’ll ask for discounts when they otherwise wouldn’t. Or worse, they won’t buy from you at all, on the presumption that if you’re desperate for business, you can’t be very good.

So ask them about their wants and needs. Ask them for the order. Just don’t ask them to negotiate your price.