Authority or Decision-Maker Missing

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Often the decision-maker is absent or will send a subordinate who lacks the authority to materially participate in decision-making. The tactic works when the person participating in the negotiation discloses they have no authority, previously having represented they have some level of authority. They may then insist that the deal they will present to their superior must be the best possible deal. This can be very destructive in multiparty negotiations as it costs time and money. Although this is grouped under Authority, it could also be part of a procedural gap, such as insisting the decision-maker be close at hand.


Negotiator 1: “We agree, but my client has final approval.” Negotiator 2, Defense 1: “Can you call them right now? I will wait on hold.” Negotiator 2, Defense 2: “When will you hear from them?” Negotiator 2, Defense 3: “I have to close with you now or else I will close with my next appointment at 3pm. You must understand I can’t hold the deal without some compensation.”


The solution is to get the decision-maker involved and set a date on which the decision will be made. Do not appear too eager to rush the process if you are on solid ground with knowing who the decision makers are and whether there are delegates involved. Inquire after the range of authority of delegates and get it in writing if possible. If there is an opportunity cost, you may want to explain your sense of urgency in ensuring the presence of decision-making participants.

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