Higher Authority

By Mark Jankowski

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.

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