• Give sellers a reason to negotiate. If you're a loyal customer, say so. If you're at a mom-and-pop store because you like to shop locally, say that. Tell the car dealer if you intend to bring your vehicle back for servicing.
• Ask open-ended questions. It's easy to be turned down if you ask a yes-or-no question. Say you want a 60-inch television but can afford only a 52-inch model. Cohen suggests: "I've got the perfect space for a 60-inch TV, but the financial issue is a challenge. How can you help me?"
• See whether the seller is anxious. Anxious sellers might include someone who has bought a new house but hasn't sold the old one or a car dealer with a car that has sat on the lot for months.
• Decide on a fair price. Research the cost of any product before buying, and use it to determine what you're willing to pay. Print out or take screen shots of website pages or request written quotes from competitors. If you can't get a discount, ask about free shipping, delivery or installation.
• Show your knowledge. If you're versed in Federal-style furniture, are geeky about gaming systems or know the ins and outs of foreign coins, share that expertise and curiosity with the seller. You'll come across as a qualified buyer.
• Find flaws. If you see a sweater with a smudge or a dishwasher with a ding, point it out.
• Seek a discount for paying cash. That way, sellers won't need to pay transaction fees to a credit card company.
• Be discreet. Sellers may not want to make your great deal public.