Negotiation – How Aspiration Levels Affect The Outcome

Aspiration levels are fundamental to any negotiation, big or small. In this short video, you will learn why they are important and be given some examples to illustrate the point. 

Learn more about LDL Negotiation Training.

When planning a negotiation it is vital to understand the concept of aspiration levels. Our aspiration is what we would like to get, it is what we expect the outcome to be, it is our intended objective. And in negotiation there is a key principle, and it is this: the person who aims high usually gets more.

Consider two salespeople, Jane and George. Prior to a sales call, Jane says to herself: “This is an extremely important sale, I must get this business, I really believe we have an outstanding solution for the client. I’ll get the quoted price with standard terms. If they really push me I might possibly concede up to 2%, but they’re going to have to push really hard.” She’s doing a grand job.

Contrast that with George, who is preparing for a similar call. He is saying to himself beforehand: “I’ve really got to get this deal, this is extremely important. If I have to, to close the business, I’ll concede up to 20%.” Who will negotiate the better deal? Of course it is Jane!

Aspirations go up and down with the tide of success. When things are going well, we are in a strong position, we’ve got lots of leverage, our aspirations go up: we expect more and of course that means we get more, just like Jane.

However, when things are not going so well, when we’re not feeling very strong, we don’t have much leverage, then our aspirations go down: we expect less which invariably means we get less. A bit like George.

So a major part of any negotiation is our ability to lower the other person’s aspirations. The lower their aspiration, the less they’re going to ask for.

The Opening Ploy

The usual opening ploy is for both parties to exaggerate the distance between them. We tell the buyer the price and he says to us: “What! I need to pick myself up off the floor.” Or there’s a sharp intake of breath. Or he says something like: “We’ve had an excellent quote from one of your competitor’s, some of my colleagues are already leaning in their direction.” Or he talks about budget restrictions.

Here’s an Unusual Example to Make the Point

Suppose at the start of a sales call, you are told that your competitors’ prices are a lot higher than yours. What would your reaction be? Would you want to raise or reduce your price? Well, you’d want to raise them. Do you see the implication? Everything that is said during the conversation effects the price in the other person’s head. Our aspirations go up and down depending on what we are told once we are in contact with the other person.

So what will you do in your next negotiation to lower the other side’s aspirations? And have you thought about and spotted what the buyer is doing to lower yours? Negotiate well!

Learn more about LDL Negotiation Training.

This content forms part of the LDL Professional Negotiation Skills programme.