How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Being a customer is a powerful place to be. When you have money to spend, you have the choice of being able to spend it where you like. You may have sales people fawning and groveling in front of you. For a short period, you are a king or queen and can enjoy the sense of being in charge.
For many people, the power of being a customer is a like taking a drug. Power corrupts, as they say, and many people become 'shopaholics' or at least end up buying things they don't really need, just for the buzz of buying. At its worst, this is a destructive addiction that can take over people's lives and lead them into horrific debt (if you or anyone you know has fallen this far, a word of serious advice: get professional help).
Sales people know this effect and will pander to it, encouraging the sense of grandeur, flattering and boosting your ego. Then they may hint that if you do not use this buying power, perhaps it will go away. Or maybe cast doubt that you are able to use it at all. Of course you have to prove that you can use the power and buy something...
As a customer, you are in great demand by many organizations who would like to sell you all kinds of things. You can use this power to get yourself a good deal in many situations.
Know what you want
The first part of buying is knowing what you want. It is amazing how many people buy things simply because marketers and sales people tell them that that they need the products on sale.
Knowing what you want also means knowing the difference between what you absolutely must have, what would be really nice, what would be ok (but not that important) and what you really don't care about. It also includes knowing what you don't want (would you buy a real leopard-skin coat?).
Knowing what you want means being able to say 'I want that', 'I don't care about that' and 'I really don't want that'. This can actually help sales people find you the right thing (sales people are human too, and often really do want you to leave and remain as a happy customer).
The sales person will be trying to take charge of the proceedings, controlling what is happening and when. This is seldom a good idea. You are the customer and you can take charge. Grab the baton off them. Tell them what you want them to do. Make decisions. Drive a good bargain.
Drive a good bargain
You can also use your customer power to drive a good bargain and there are many techniques on this site you can use to this effect. Find out what the sales person wants and use this as a lever (Are they on a bonus scheme? Are they hooked on the power-trip of 'making the sale'?).
It is surprising where you can negotiate and how much you can get off the price if you really try. From hotels to hardware stores, if you talk to the right person and say the right things, you can save enormous sums and get staggering bargains.
You can say no
Most of all, remember that you can say no. You can say no today, wanting to think or look elsewhere. And the ultimate power of the customer is to take their custom elsewhere.
You also do not need to justify saying no. A part of being a customer is that you can choose everything that you say and not say. You are under no obligation to the sales person to say or do anything at any time.
Remember the relationship
In one-off purchases where you are in a clear win-lose situation, a win for the other person is a lose for you, and vice versa. In such situations, trust is at rock bottom and you (and they) can use every trick under the sun.
When you have a longer-term relationship with the seller, perhaps when they are a local trader or when you are in a business-to-business long-term relationship, then deception is probably not such a good idea, although you are still under no obligation to buy and should always remember your real constituency.
And the big