Higher Authority

Jeff Cochran


Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re in the process of solidifying a deal and the person you’re dealing with has got you handshake away from completion and then drops the infamous line, “This looks good, and now I’ll just have to ask my boss/client/wife/committee if this is acceptable before it’s final.”?

This is their escape clause – their tactic to get your best deal, and provide themselves with one more opportunity to take another bite of the apple when they come back and say: “My boss loved the idea, and she is on board, provided we can make a small change…”

We call this tactic – or manipulation technique, higher authority. You maybe unaware that the person you’re dealing with is actually using the higher authority tactic to leverage themselves into landing a better deal. Try to familiarize yourself with cases like this to avoid being swindled.

Think of the car salesman who has to “get approval” from his manager before finalizing the deal.  He walks into the “back office,” only to return and tell you his boss was prepared to agree to a “slightly” more expensive deal.

We have encountered the higher authority scam many a time. So we’ve come up with a couple ways to save you, and you’re deal, from this unfortunate sabotage.

  • Smoke out the tactic early. Openly asking before conversations begin, “What is your decision making process?” Alternatively you can ask, “If we come to agreement, what happens next?” Typically if you try this early in the process, you will smoke out whether there is anyone else who she might later use as her higher authority.
  • Ask for a meeting with the higher authority. If you use this strategy, you should make her aware that your boss is going to call her boss directly and while you have advised him not to do so, he has not listened to you. By taking this approach, you are giving her the “heads up,” and hopefully she will appreciate your attempts to keep her informed.
  • Match their higher authority to your higher authority. Tell her that you too must go to someone to get your agreement approved. This provides you with the ability to ask for changes from your higher authority if she asks for changes from her higher authority.

VTP Corporate Training in 3D Virtual Worlds

Jeff Cochran


Virtual Training Partners is offering its Introduction to Corporate Training in 3D Virtual Worlds on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 12pm EST. This program will be of particular interest to Training Professionals who are interested in learning about the latest innovations in Avatar-based training techniques. During this one hour program, participants will:

  • Learn the benefits and drawbacks of using 3D Virtual Worlds for Corporate Training
  • Discuss case studies from successful corporate implementation of this 3D Virtual World training; and
  • Gain hands on experience using the latest technology in online training.

To register please visit

7. Strategy and Team

Jeff Cochran


Create a team on your side. It may consist of co-negotiators, experts in various aspects or good cop-bad cop, information sources, and devil’s advocates with whom you can role-play. Practice before you go to the table.

Assess the other side and the members of their team. Who are their decision makers? Don’t get caught by a higher authority. Strategize. Do you want to control the negotiation or let the other side control the flow? Do you want to lead from strength or react to a lead from the other side? How many face-to-face meetings do you want to have? No answer is right or wrong. That depends on your needs, your goals, the tone and style of the other side, timing, and egos.

Plan you concessions. Where will you give in? Where will you stand firm? How will you make a move so that it gives the least and gains the most? Write out/set forth you proposals in advance – test them, state them, and restate them until you are comfortable.

Don’t stop practicing until you are comfortable. Don’t stop practicing until you are comfortable that your strategy works and flexes when faced with a variety of opposing strategies.

6. Highest Goal/ Walk Away Position

Jeff Cochran


You will never achieve a lofty goal unless you aim for it. Where would you like to come out? What would be ideal/ if you don’t reach it, you will surely never get it. At the very same time, know where your bottom line is. How much will you give up to make the deal? If you don’t face this hard question in advance, you may find yourself repeatedly lowering your expectations as the deal progresses. Be willing to walk at a certain point but decide where that point is before you start negotiating and write it down on the Planner.

Case and point: Jerry McGuire.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, you know that the character of Jerry McGuire sets very high goals in the opening scene. Watch it Here to see what we mean.