The Art of War

One time I was told that I don’t bargain. That was in reference to some street shopping. Here’s the thing- I don’t like bargaining. As a businesswoman I find myself on both sides of the table. As a businesswoman I know what goes into bringing a product or service to the consumer- the effort, money and heart. And as a consumer I have a limit to how much I can and want to spend on something. So when I go to buy something, I can clearly see what’s gone into the costing and if the seller reduced his price then he wouldn’t make a profit.

I find that there are some consumers who want to negotiate to the point of either a no-loss-no-profit or a loss situation for you but either ways they just don’t want you to make a profit at all. They make it seem like a war. But profit is good! It’s good for the business as well as the consumer. If the business makes profit, they can put it back into the business and upgrade their quality and offerings. And of course some of that will go into their bonuses. It’s like that Axis bank ad where they show how one business transaction sets off multiple transactions. It is a domino effect. Of course, no doubt there are businessmen who are there just to steal from you and you should be vary of them.

In my business and position I sometimes feel resentment towards some of our customers who claim to be our friends and well wishers. Those are the exact people because of whom I incur a loss because they expect freebies or a heavily discounted rate. The way I see it, if you consider yourself my family or friend and if you don’t help me do good business and make a living, how can I expect a stranger to? Not just that, they also expect so much more that they know they can only pull of because my family is in this.

There are also times when customers say such absurd things that it makes my jaw drop. Like literally. One time somebody was arguing with me about how I’m increasing the rate every time that they are adding something new. I kid you not, that’s EXACTLY how the conversation went. I was stunned into silence for the next few seconds. Yeah like as though when you go to the super market you pay only for half your items. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes, some customers’ behaviour really gets to me. I get so angry that I know I can’t control it if I say a word. But unfortunately that’s not an option and the result of not letting that anger out is internal stress and mental fatigue. If only the customer wasn’t the king. I may have painted a very negative picture of customers though and I now want to point out that this isn’t always the case. On the other side of the spectrum there are customers who are so straight forward that they don’t bargain at all. It’s those customers to whom I willingly give freebies and accommodate all requests. Be kind and you will receive kindness (And brilliant service).

Then again, I never thought I’d be good at negotiating but I surprised myself. That is an art I learned in a workshop held in Facebook and through the process of revisiting my learnings and theories, I realized I learnt more about business than I ever did before.

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Sunayana Sen

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