Aiming high is the standard of many an opener. The “opener” is the first signal a negotiator is ready to negotiate. It may be in response to an offer (or a “counter offer”). Though this may seem easy, it may not only undermine your credibility, but also terminate the negotiation entirely if used incorrectly.
If you choose to ask for a big number, ensure it is not outside the industry standard, especially if there is known pricing data. In cases where no pricing data is available, focus conversation on value to the organization or consider an open ended question (OEQ – this is a separate tactic, and will be discussed in the future). You probably will never get more than your opening ask as a general rule. The best outcome for you, if you must make the first offer, may be to aim high.
For example: the recent viral negotiation case of a college professor who was offered and accepted a job, then came in big with additional counteroffers, only to find the post acceptance counteroffer was rejected, is a prime example. Although social media used this case as sexism, which may have contributed to giving the individual no third chance, the subsequent analysis shows the subtlety. I look at the case as something every employer does not want to hear after they make an offer that seems accepted: the prospective then asks for more pay, less work and indicates the employer is not their top priority. Never lie or misrepresent, but disclosure of the absolute truths of your personal life and motivations can be detrimental.
When confronted with the “Aim High” tactic, know your market.
If you use an Aim High opener: Use authority to justify your ask, even if it is out of the bell curve. If you receive an Aim High opener: dial it down to your microeconomic situation; consider, “I know US News and Earth Report says the average associate earns $150,000 out of law school, but Seattle is a desirable town and there are more attorneys here than Salmon.”