This is the golden rule of negotiating!
“Always ask for more than you expect to get.” should be tattooed on the inside of your hands so you never forget. These types of simple golden rules are so basic that sometimes we forget about them and take them for granted and often we don’t even think about why it is they are so important.
So why should you always ask for more than you expect to get?
You Might Get It
Well the main reason you should always ask for more than you expect to get is that you actually might get it! Think positively folks. Stop being such defeatists in the face of conflict and pressure. It seems like a no brainer, but so many people don’t ask for more than they expect to get. Some people actually ask for exactly what they expect to get or even worse, sometimes people ask for less than they expect to get.
Well, in my estimation, the answer is directly linked to the fear of rejection and ridicule. We all fear rejection and ridicule, and some of us pay dearly for that fear and leave tons of money on the table so that we are spared potential rejection or ridicule.
What do I mean by this, well, let’s say you want to buy a car, and that car was advertised for $10K and you think you can get it for $8.5K (because based on your research you felt like that was what it was worth), so you offer offer $7K. And the seller said, “That’s ridiculous, we won’t even consider it! I can’t believe you would even offer me that!”
Now, it’s likely you feel a bit sheepish at this point, but what have you actually lost?
Aside from feeling a bit embarrassed, you’ve lost no money and you’re no worse off than when you started.
What if you went through the same scenario and the seller had actually said yes?
You would have gotten the car you wanted and you would have saved $3K. Plus you would feel like an absolute negotiation rockstar!
Change the Perceived Value
Another reason you should always ask for more than you expect to get is that you changed the perceived value of what it is you’re negotiating as well as your perceived value.
What is perceived value? As I’ve said in other posts, what you perceive that value a product/service has and the party you’re negotiating with perceives the value of the product/service to be may be two completely different things. In negotiating, as in life, perception is everything! And, if you can change someone’s perception, then you can control the negotiation.
A key negotiation principle that I use often is something called conditioning. How do you condition (change the perception of the other side) someone to believe that what they are offering is less valuable than they think or what you are offering is more valuable? Think about when you apply for a job. When they ask you how much money you want as a salary, you ask for more than what you expect. This raises YOUR perceived value in the mind of the person hiring.
Make The Other Side Feel As Though They’ve Won
My grandfather used to tell me, “Mark, you need to get so good at sales that you’re able to tell someone to go to hell and how you say it should have them look forward to the trip.”
I don’t recommend you tell anyone to go to hell, but now that you know that perception is everything, how do you create a situation where the “other side” feels like they’ve won even when they haven’t? If you want to buy something and you go in with your best price or best offer right up front, you immediately lose all your negotiating room and completely eliminate any possibility for the other side to leave feeling as though they’ve won.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to buy that car again. It’s advertised for $10K and you offer $8.5K (because based on your research you felt like that was what it was worth). $8.5K is your best price. You can only go up from here, not down. You cannot negotiate from this point without leaving the other party feeling like they lost because you’ve painted yourself into a corner.
But you still want that car and so your natural next question is if I don’t offer my best price, how much should I be offering?
Answer, bracket your objective an equal distance on the other side of your objective as their proposal. This sounds complicated but it’s simple. Let’s go back to the car example, the car was advertised for $10K and you think you can get it for $8.5K (because based on your research you felt like that was what it was worth), so you offer offer $7K. What have you done? This is called bracketing. You’re basically creating a negotiating range that you can now work within. You’re giving yourself room to move. Without bracketing, you can fall prey to good negotiators who will take advantage of you. With bracketing you’ve created space to taper concessions and created opportunities to move the other party up or down, depending on your position.
So, in summary, always ask for more than you expect to get. You just my get it.