The Right and Wrong Way to Ask for a Vendor Discount
Smart small business owners want to save money. They like getting a good deal. They like to feel as if they’re getting a lot of value for their money. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to ask a vendor for a discount. For the purpose of this discussion, vendor is any business or individual that provides you with a good or a service that helps your business in some way. So, it could be the person that provides your office with transcription. It could be a freelancer that you hire to help with your marketing. It could be anyone or any organization that provides your business with something it needs to keep going.
The Wrong Way to Ask for a Vendor Discount
Think about the last time that you went to the grocery store. When you get in line to leave, do you say to the cashier, “What’s the lowest price I can have on this?” Of course not. You know that you either have coupons or you don’t. If you want a lower price, you look for the things that are on sale. You look for brands that you can afford to get what you need or you check out what the store may have on clearance.
We don’t walk into Wal-Mart, Homeland, Sam’s Club, Costco, or any other retail outlet to ask them to lower their price. We save that for flea markets and yard sales. Put yourself into the shoes of your vendor. If someone walked into your office right now to get a service from you and you gave them the price, what would you think if they said, “No, really – what’s the lowest price you’ll give me?” You’d probably smile and firmly tell them that’s the price.
Yet, small business owners ask vendors this question every day. In the quest to get the best deal possible, they think that their vendors have wiggle room on the price. If you wouldn’t be willing to cut your price to gain a client, then you can’t expect vendors to work in that way. Vendors still have to pay overhead costs. They have to pay themselves or their employees.
It’s simply not fair to presume that your vendors can afford to cut their prices.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ever ask a vendor for a discount. Actually, there is a right way to ask.
The Right Way to Ask for a Vendor Discount
Think back to the grocery store example. Have you ever bought a little more of a particular item just to get a cheaper price or to get something free? The reason we do this is because we know that even if we won’t use the extra items now, we will eventually use them. The idea that we can get something that we will need later at a cheaper rate is appealing to us. The idea that we get something free also drives us to buy more.
If you want to approach a vendor for a discount, ask this question, “Do you offer a discount for someone who __________________________?” Fill in the blank. If you’re working with a freelancer on any project, that question could be, “Do you offer a discount for someone who pays in full in advance?” If you’re buying something from a vendor, you may change it to, “Do you offer a discount for someone who buys this product in bulk?” If the answer is yes, ask how much you would have to purchase and what the discount would be.
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