Reservation Price – 3 Things every Professional Should Know

Reservation price is a term that every procurement manager must know. So if you’re not familiar with it, then you are either a procurement specialist turned manager after a few months of working or you’ve completely forgotten about it already because someone else has to deal with it.

For this article, it’s time to learn what reservation price means. We are going to define the term, learn more about what it can do for your procurement process, and know when to take advantage of it.

After reading this article, you should already have an idea of what reservation price is all about.

What Exactly is Reservation Price?

Reservation price, to put it simply, is the least price that you can get that will make you accept a negotiated agreement. Of course, there are also two sides to this. For the buyer, the reservation price would be the maximum or bottom line that they would pay while for the seller, it’s the minimum amount of money that they can accept before accepting the deal. 

Sounds familiar? That’s because you’ve already encountered a reservation price in one of our earlier articles about the breakpoint in negotiations. Reservation price is also called the walk-away point of a negotiation. If you don’t get the reservation price even after countless hours of negotiation, then it’s either you make a concession or you walk away.

Is BATNA the same as Reservation Price?

BATNA, also known as “Best Alternative to No Alternative”, may sound like the same as reservation price, but the former is actually very different from the latter. A reservation price, as mentioned, is the last acceptable price that you are willing to accept for a negotiated deal. The BATNA, however, is your backup plan of action in case negotiations have failed. 

BATNA also answers negotiations with specific scenarios instead of prices. So, for example, if you’re discussing a deal where your aim is getting a bid of $1 million, you can perhaps specify your reservation price to $300,000 or more. As with your BATNA, if in case negotiations are prolonged and a decision is still unclear, your BATNA can be to suggest for a recess and get back for re-negotiations.

Determining the Reservation Price

So now we have a good idea on what the reservation price, how exactly do we determine the reservation price for every negotiation? Well first off, the reservation price should be something that is agreed upon by you and your negotiations team. If you’re working for a procurement company or team, the reservation price is commonly decided by the leader of the team, which is always the procurement manager or procurement director.

But if you’re negotiating on your own or if you’re in an informal setting, your reservation price depends entirely on you. It is almost always the last price you’ll agree to be comfortable for you. You also need to determine whether the reservation price is acceptable for the other party too. Set it too high and you’ll instantly get a walkout. Set the reservation price too low though and the other party will take advantage of it.

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Editor's note:

Hi there! My name is Marijn Overvest, I'm the founder of Procurement Tactics.
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How to Deal with a Reservation Price

If you’re negotiating and you’re getting a reservation price from the other party, there are many ways in dealing with this:

  • Is the reservation price fair enough? If it’s a yes, then you can negotiate further. If it’s a no, instantly stop the negotiations and walk away.
  • If the other party is not accepting any concessions with their reservation price, then it’s also a fair move to walk out from the negotiations.
  • If it’s the other party that’s hard balling you from the get-go, you can drop your reservation price at once.
  • If you don’t want to close doors with your opponent, you could try getting a concession instead of walking away from the deal. Sometimes you have to lose a battle today in order to win a war tomorrow
  • If you managed to get a concession despite the other party (or you) dropping a reservation price, do consider re-negotiating the deal as soon as you can.
  • Remember, keep your reservation price to yourself or your team. Don’t let your opponents discover what it is! But if you’re able to discover the other party’s reservation price, then use it to your advantage!


What is a reservation price?

The reservation price is the last price you’ll agree to a negotiated deal.

How to deal with a reservation price?

There are two ways to deal with a reservation price. You can either accept it or you walk away from the negotiations.

How to determine a reservation price?

Your reservation price depends on how much you are willing to accept to agree to a deal. You can talk about it with your negotiation team.

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