The Negotiation Principle Of Higher Authority

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February 2, 2017 by Jeff Blaine Lowen

We’ve all been on the new car lot perusing that perfect car that will meet all our needs only to find ourselves in some cubicle ready to sign an inflated value contract we weren’t even sure we’d be doing today… Haven’t we?

It’s then when the salesperson looks over to you and asks for your commitment, and you realize that if your wife finds out what you did, you’ll be sleeping in the garage…

If the salesperson wasn’t well trained in negotiation strategy, he probably didn’t ask you something like, “If you see something you like, and you love it; is there any reason that would keep you from buying today?”  win_win_negotiation

Since he didn’t ask, you tell him at the moment of truth, “Well, I really have to talk to my wife about this…” And no matter what, since she’s not there, the salesperson has nowhere to go but to let you leave with high hopes.

Hence, the principle of higher authority.

Kids use this one all the time, don’t they? Pitting mom against dad, “But, dad said I could…” “Mom wants me to do this instead…”

It’s why many real estate agents learn the hard way when it comes to buyer and listing appointments if they don’t ask a simple question to remove their prospects ability to use higher authority on them to avoid making a decision.

If I’m going to a listing appointment, and I don’t ask the seller (on the phone before I go) something like, “If everything makes sense, is there anything that would prevent you from putting me to work for you today?” Or, “Is there anyone else that you need to speak with before you give the go ahead…” Then it’s my own fault if I don’t walk out with a signed listing agreement and a great listing for all the hungry buyers where I can showcase my talents!

As Jeffrey Gitomer once said, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” Isn’t that the truth! No one likes to be force fed a decision everyone thinks it’s a good idea, except them. This is why a well-trained agent won’t waste your time without having everyone present.

The principle of higher authority is being used on you whether you realize it or not. If you’re smart, you’ll understand the concept and recognize it when it’s being used so you can adjust for your own objective. Let me share some examples:

  • “Let me talk to my client and I’ll get back to you.” Realtors know this one all too well.
  • “I have to talk my uncle about it first…”
  • “I might be able to buy the house, I just need to check with my lender…”

How do you counter the principle of higher authority? How can you remove one’s ability to use it to avoid making a decision? Therein lies the art of a being a successful negotiator. A great negotiator always helps people make decisions that are in the best interest of the person they represent by reaching for a win-win solution.

Read a little more about being a better negotiator and the strategies they use here.



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