Erica Tennenhouse, PhD
Those selling pre-owned equipment have heard it all when it comes to negotiation attempts. Customers will point out that they can get the same item on eBay or from a broker for half price, offer $5,000 on a $20,000 system, or accuse the company of price gouging—and the list goes on. Yet these sorts of negotiating tactics rarely, if ever, hit the mark.
So how can customers who are in the market for used equipment effectively negotiate?
Do your homework
When customers enter into a conversation about a piece of equipment, having done some background research can make a world of difference.
Speaking with others who have purchased used equipment is a good place to start. “Get references, get references, get references,” advises Richard Tula, lead product specialist at Biodirect (Taunton, MA). “Then you will see why some resellers sell their products for more than others.”
Reputable companies don’t simply price their products on a whim. “Our team puts a tremendous amount of effort into properly pricing equipment at what we believe the market value is,” says Reid Hjalmarson, director of marketing at BioSurplus (San Diego, CA). Customers should get on the same page as the vendors by finding out what the market value of a given product is before trying to negotiate.
One should also be aware that there are a variety of vendor types out there with different business models that can have important implications for a buyer. For instance, “there is a major difference between buying from certified equipment resellers and used equipment brokers,” Tula stresses.
For Bill VanDeWeghe, president and CEO at BioSurplus, it is particularly helpful when customers communicate their needs, whether they relate to budgets, timelines, or applications. “Once we know their needs, we can figure out what we can do to help them,” he says.
“We want repeat customers,” says Hjalmarson. “So we want to find solutions to their needs. We’re in it for the long haul with our customers.”
Tula believes negotiations are all about give and take. “Working together to make everyone feel like they got a good deal makes for a successful transaction and a long-standing relationship,” he says.
Hjalmarson adds, “I think that respect goes a long way in those negotiations.”
Think beyond price
Although tight budgets are often the driving force behind a used equipment purchase, customers may consider other components that might be open for negotiation.
Aside from price, Hjalmarson notes that customers sometimes want to discuss the terms of the sale, get assistance with installation, or store their purchased equipment until their lab is up and running.
“Make sure to look for the added-value aspect of the vendor; don’t base your decision solely on price. Best price doesn’t always equate to best value,” Tula says.
Negotiating is just one of many ways for customers to get a deal on a piece of used equipment. Joining an association like Biocom can pay off, according to Van- DeWeghe, as members are often entitled to discounts on products from preferred vendors. Giving a company repeat business can earn a customer discounts as well. Purchasing equipment through auctions may be a good option for those looking to pay less than market price. Finally, with new equipment arriving each week, VanDe- Weghe encourages customers to check in frequently to find out about new deals.