I have a few friends who practically have a second job or even a full-time job selling stuff via Craig’s List or Facebook yard sale groups. They are shrewd and clever, speedily turning random objects into extra crash. I am nowhere near so crafty, but when I’m working on the old decluttering tasks I sometimes try to see if I can’t get a few bucks out of certain items.
And sometimes, more than I’d like, this leads to a text with the dreaded question “What’s the lowest price you’d take for this?”
Now, I have never posted anything for a firm price. I’m not in the yard sale business, I’m trying to see if I can get money out of something I’m going to get rid of regardless. Of course I am willing to negotiate. Haggling ought to be part of the territory of such a market. But that question “What’s the lowest you’ll take?” put me at a standstill.
I don’t know what would be the lowest I’d take. I looked at similar listed items and tried to price mine to sell while still getting me a decent deal. Make me an offer.
I once participated in a heated Facebook Mom group argument about this, people irritated by the question and people irritated by those irritated at the question. Whilst delving into the interweb for this question, I found a number of online forums with similar views. In the end, everyone, buyers and sellers, are just trying to get a good deal.
So how does one respond to the question?
I’ve narrowed the people who ask this question into three general groups:
Group A: These are good people who probably want to haggle to some extent, but honestly don’t know how. They are unaware or clunky with the time-honored tradition of making an offer and playing the game from there. They figure their honest question of “What’s the lowest you’d take?” is an acceptable start.
Group B: These are people who just don’t like haggling, negotiating, or wheeling and dealing. The dance of the sale is one they’d rather not participate in. The best of them don’t exactly want to cheat you, they just don’t want to waste time with e-mails or texts back and forth or even that face-to-face conversation. They’re interested in buying the product and want this to be like a traditional store front. “I’d like to buy your product, what will you sell it to me for so we can both be on our way?”
Group C: The time-wasters, the tire-kickers. They might not even be looking seriously to buy, they just want to score a great deal. They’re hoping to find someone desperate for money and/or to get rid of an item.
Keep in mind, I’m just a gal who sells stuff occasionally on a yard sale group. I am not an earnest salesman. But here is what I picked up on how to respond from scouring over the thoughts and experiences of those wiser than me.
You’re still the seller. You can still dance the dance of the sale. That delicate art of haggling is not necessarily lost just because some guy seemingly smashed your action by asking your lowest price. Of course, due to this type of market being more art than science, responses depend on the situation. Some people, especially if they spell Group C, simply don’t respond. Others sign to themselves and respond with “Make an offer.”
But my all-time favorite response I’ve found?
“So you’re interested in buying Item if it were the right price?”
There! You just did the old sneak of answering a question with a question. It’s polite, diplomatic, and starts a dialogue. You’ve possibly frustrated Group C, maybe convinced Group B to work with you just a little bit, and likely have Group A more comfortably into the negotiations.
Even if they were trying to sidestep the haggling process by trumping your stated asking price, this line can be used to put the ball back in your court with a dialogue.
From there, the conversation can go many ways. If they want the item, they will say yes. Perhaps they’ll still be stubborn and again want to know your lowest price.
At that point, those wiser than me give several options, usually including a break-down of the item and why you were thinking your asking price.
From there, here are some tried-and-true methods:
- Ask them what they’d like to offer or can pay. Kindly worded, this gets the deal back on.
- Decide on what, yes, you’d accept if this guy would just take the item now and give you money–and, unless you really just want money/the item gone, give it a nice padding.
- Decide on that low price… and name a figure half-way between there and your original asking price.
- Knock off a bit of a percentage from your asking price. If this is your preferred strategy, it’s a good idea to post your asking price higher.
The lesson was, there is little use in getting upset over what from many people is an honest question they don’t find rude. Perhaps the art of haggling is getting lost, perhaps people just want to find that good deal. Getting upset rather than figuring you’re still the seller in possession of the item could lose you a sale.
Again, the Group C tire-kickers will be a pain, but it might be worth it to relax and give Groups A and B a break.