How asking for a discount can damage your business relationships?

As a professional business negotiator, I understand the depth and complexity of asking for a deal.  If not done correctly, it can have a very negative impact on the relationship between you and your vendor/supplier and can cause you to pay more in the long run.

Every time you simply ask for a discount, what you are really doing is devaluing the product/service you are trying to acquire.  Those companies put their blood, sweat and tears into building a product and business. 

If you are working with a small business, then that is going to feel even more personal.  If you have ever seen the show “Shark Tank”, you will understand how personal and emotional it is for them.

If you are working through a sales rep, asking for that discount may very well mean they won’t get as much of a commission, something they rely on to provide for their family.  It may even make them miss their sales targets and affect their job.

Let’s face it… no matter who is involved, you are asking for them to give away their hard earned money. 

When you are asking for a discount you are taking something away from the other party.  That is going to stir up some negative emotions and can create animosity in the busines relationship if not done correctly.

 A truly successful negotiation would have all parties on board with the outcome, eliminating all that negativity.  This is why our negotiators work hard to frame the deal in a way where the other party feels like they are also winning from the deal.  If your vendor/supplier feels like they are being taken advantage of, they won’t be willing to “deal” with you in the future.  They may even increase their rates on their quotes just so that they can accommodate the discount they know you are going to ask for.  So, you may get a small discount and feel like you “won”.  But be careful that you aren’t doing more harm than good and setting yourself up for future failure.


Have you ever tried to sell something privately on Craigslist, Offerup, Letgo, etc.?  If you have then you have likely experienced what it is like to have people give you lowball offers, devaluing something you feel is worth more, haggling over every dollar.  How did it make you feel? How likely are you to want to sell to or deal with them in the future?

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