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March 13, 2019

Negotiating Tip 98: Ask For More Than You Expect

There are times to be aggressive.

Everyone wants to walk away from a negotiation saying they did okay, that they got what they wanted, or that they got that good deal.  Good negotiators have a special knack of enabling their negotiating opponents to feel just that way, even if they didn't.  

The techniques for doing this are numerous, but one way is to ask for more than you'd expect to get.

I'm not talking about asking for a bit more.  I'm talking about asking for a lot more.  Asking for something that approaches the point of being insulting.  While such a request has no chance of being accepted, it does enable one's opponent to feel good when that unreasonable request is abandoned.

The offering party employing this technique can gain cover by quoting a price source other than themselves.  The 'more than you'd expect to get' offer can send an aggressive message that will usually shock your opponent and position them to move from their initial price.  Sounds confusing, but an example might clarify the techniques.


Fred is selling a computer program and is asking $700 for it.  You really need this program but obviously don't want to pay close to that amount.  Based on what the program can do and what you'd be comfortable paying, between $450 to $500, what steps and strategy do you use to get deal you want?

Here's what you could do:

  •  You employ the power of investment, whereby you ask Fred to 'invest' a good amount of his time in the discussions/negotiations.  You do that by asking him lots of questions about the program including - who's used it?  - what problems have users encountered?   - is there a new version coming soon?  - can we get a demonstration?   - what support is available?   - how was this developed?   - what features does your program have over competing programs?  Remember, the more time one invests in a negotiation, the more likely they'll make a concession.
  •  Ask again about the price.  Use a flinch when the price is shared.  Don't let Fred think that his price is fair or warranted.  Convey the exact opposite.  Based on what you learned in Step 1, you're likely to soften Fred's pricing strategy and even have him wondering if his price is too high.
  • Next, ask for more than you expect to get.  Caution, by doing this you could insult Fred and chill the possibility of future negotiations or concessions.  Instead of you challenging Fred's price, quote (or blame)a third party.  You might accomplish this by saying,  "Wow.  $700 seems way out of line.  I say that because my wife's cousin is familiar with programs similar to yours.  They indicated it could be purchased for half what you're asking, around $350 to $400.  I want you to be fairly compensated for your product, but I want to get a fair deal too."
  • Fred will likely feel challenged and maybe even upset by your last comment.  His hostility, however, will be directed toward the third party, not you.  He can even empathize with your feelings and position.  After getting his reaction, make a counteroffer using conciliatory language.  "I'd like to be able to purchase your program and I'm confident you'd appreciate a sale.  Could you extend a courtesy discount at or near the $400 amount?"

Conclusion:  You've asked for more than you'd expect and probably more than Fred can deliver, but you'll quickly determine two things.  First, how good a negotiator Fred is and second, how badly he wants the sale.  Each situation is unique, and results will vary, but it will invariably move your opponent far from their original position.

Good negotiators recognize that creatively asking for more than they would ever expect can be done politely, effectively and with great results.

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