A lost sale – psychology in business

Leaving Munich last week, I passed by a used mobile phones store I had been the first time I visited the city with my father. At that time, we bought a simple mobile phone and a SIM card, so he could be in touch with me while travelling through the country. We were very satisfied with the product, the service and the price.
Now, five years later, I went back there to buy a phone I’ve been wanting for some time, the Nokia e71. Not that I really need it, but I was very motivated to buy. I had just earned a nice paycheck in a successful project, I have been using my old phone, a Nokia e61 for a long time already and I knew I was leaving to Brazil, where such phones cost almost twice as much.

Nokia E71.
Originally uploaded by robertopinia

They had one for sale in reasonable shape (a few minor scratches) and for a very reasonable price, €190,00. They usually go for €250,00. But my conscience was bugging me a bit, my old phone still works and I still have to pay my student credit back. So I did what I always do when buying something used anywhere I go, I tried to negotiate and offered. €150,00 for the phone. And that’s when a practically closed sale was lost.
I wasn’t expecting to get the price down so much, that was just my opening bid. Actually, I had decided that I would buy the phone for €180,00, or if the sales woman would throw in a simple Bluetooth headset or another accessory in.
The reaction I got was the worst possible. The lady, who had been charming and attentive until that point, snatched the phone from my hand, wished me a good weekend and asked if I thought she didn’t need to make money on a sale.
To be honest, that is the impression I got. My only possible reaction was to turn around and leave. She put me in a situation as if I had offended her and didn’t give me any opening to retract my offer and accept the price she wanted. Had she simply told me that she wasn’t interested in bargaining, but that I still had the option of buying, I would have probably excused me for my attempt and taken the phone.
In the end, as a sales person you have to be firm on your conditions, but you have to give the buyer the possibility of changing his mind. She or he might surprise you.

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