Negotiation Tactic #68 – Referencing a Benchmark

Summary: Using a well-respected source of information to support a position.

Objective criteria are often useful as a baseline for negotiations. Some well-known standard benchmarks include the Kelley Blue Book, the Consumer Price Index, the Consumer Confidence Index, and the interest rate set by the Federal Reserve Bank. For example, whenever someone buys or sells an automobile, each counterpart has the opportunity to reference the Kelley Blue Book for objective criteria. This source provides the retail and wholesale value of the car and specifies how much various options are worth. It even tells how much money to deduct or add for specific mileage.


You are asking $17,500 for a car you are selling. A potential buyer tells you that according to the Kelley Blue Book, the value of your car is just $15,000.


When a counterpart References a Benchmark, you should first verify that his information is correct. There are lots of ways to present information, and your counterpart will probably present his statistics in a way that supports his position. For example, if he tells you the Kelley Blue Book values your car at $15,000, ask, “Are you referencing the wholesale value or the retail value?” Buyers usually reference the wholesale value.

A second tactic may be to provide new information from another source. You might point out an ad from Craigslist that offers the identical make and model car at a price similar to what you are asking. Finally, you might take a different angle and explain why your car is an exception to the objective criteria. Perhaps you are the original owner, and have kept the car in perfect condition and have all the maintenance records to prove it, and you believe these exceptions support your price.

Have you used or encountered this tactic in your negotiations? If so, how’d it go?

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