Spending too much on your small business communications? Follow these five simple rules to score a better deal.
Lifehacker's Simplifying Small Business series of tips is presented by Vodafone.
The communications landscape is competitive, and the cost of acquiring new customers is high. Turn that to your advantage and talk your way into a better-value deal.
Insist on meeting in person
If you're trying to negotiate a deal, you'll generally do better in person than dealing with someone on the phone. You'll have more scope to explain your exact needs and you've also established a point of contact if things go wrong. Shopping online is massively convenient, but you'll have virtually no room to negotiate any extras. Make the effort and seek out an in-person interaction.
Know the competitive landscape before you start
Whether you're purely after a mobile phone contract or something broader, make sure you know what the current prices offered by your chosen provider and its major competitors are before you start. In the internet era, that's not a difficult task: basic pricing should be listed on their web site. (If it's not listed, ask yourself why.) Those set prices aren't the final word, of course; they're the starting point. As we note in our general guide to negotiating, being informed about competitive options gives you a much stronger bargaining hand.
Demand discounts for bundles and lengthy contracts
Telecommunications providers will often try to persuade you either to purchase additional services (bundling) or sign up for longer contract terms. Before you do that, ask them to explain what the benefits are for you. If multiple products are bundled together, the pricing should be discounted. While it's convenient not to have to deal with multiple providers, that's no reason not to seek a better-value deal. Similarly, if someone seeks a 24-month contract, ask for a written guarantee that prices won't rise during that time.
Be polite, but don't be a pushover
Negotiation is not a battle. Being polite and pleasant will get you further than screaming or yelling or threatening to walk out.
Ask for time to think about it
Don't be pressured into signing up straight away. Say you'll look at the deal and come back in 48 hours. If you apply this tactic towards the end of the month, when sales staff have targets to meet, you may find you receive a better offer within that time period.
Negotiating picture from Shutterstock