A Winner’s Guide To Negotiating
Fletcher has learned a lot over the past two decades while negotiating an
estimated $500 million worth of deals on behalf of hundreds of the world’s
premiere athletes, coaches and television commentators. She reveals the strategies, tips, and insights
that have made her wildly successful first as a sports agent and now as a
corporate consultant and keynote speaker, in her newest book, A Winner’s
Guide To Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done (McGraw-Hill, September 19, 2014).
being represented by Media Connect. With candor and vision, her book reveals
things all great negotiators do that you can too.
learned from negotiating in the sports world that are applicable to the
business world of lawyers, entrepreneurs, executives, salespeople, financial
consultants, and real estate agents.
within the game of negotiating – and the pitfalls to avoid.
How to set
the stage for a deal and employ “360-degree awareness” to come out ahead.
navigated through the challenges of representing Hall of Fame athletes,
Emmy-winning broadcasters, and title-winning coaches such as NFL great Joe
Theismann, Cy Young winner John Smoltz, top NCAA coaches Tom Izzo and Billy
Donovan, NBA champion coach Doc Rivers, PGA Tour champion Matt Kuchar, and
popular television broadcasters Erin Andrews and Ernie Johnson Jr.
one takes to build, manage, and grow relationships in a competitive business
How to use
– or avoid – technology, social media, and email when negotiating.
negotiate with difficult personalities or people you don’t like or trust.
female Jerry Maguire,” by CNN, she also shows the impact of gender in
negotiating. She knows what it is like to operate in a male-dominated industry
and offers professional advice to women on how they can negotiate their way to
knows the dynamics and sensitivities that can turn a deal around in an instance
and she shares many unique stories that teach us how to connect with -- and
gain the respect of -- powerful people.
She shares the people skills that are needed to drive a
relationship-based negotiation and shows which words and deeds trigger results
more than any others.
you learn nothing else from me,” writes Fletcher, “know this: effective
negotiation is a conversation, a relationship, a rhythm built over time. At the
heart of my success is managing relationships well so that conversations keep
going, stay open, and spark more conversations because the seeds of your next
negotiation are planted in the one you are doing right now. A negotiation is a
story, and a good negotiator is like a bestselling novelist who knows the
characters so well that nothing they do is surprising.”
Q & A with Molly Fletcher
A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating
You estimate that you’ve worked
on 500 million dollars worth of deals on behalf of 300 clients over the past
two decades. What’s been the key to your success? Relationships and
reputation. In the sports agent
industry, there are more agents than there are athletes to represent. It’s a really competitive business, so you
have to be able to effectively build, manage and grow relationships. You have to be able to build relationships
with prospective clients while ensuring that you are continuing to develop
relationships with your current clients and deliver consistently. You also have to be able to develop
relationships with team personnel and manufacturers so you can deliver deals. How you behave within all of those
relationships determines your reputation.
You often have to negotiate with the same parties multiple times, and
they will avoid you and vice versa if they don’t trust you. Reputation is built on honesty and integrity
and allows long term success.
Why do you assert that effective
negotiating comes down to seeing it as a conversation built over time?
Too often we take a shortsighted view of negotiation. It’s far more
effective if you see negotiation as a conversation. Over time, you can have a trust for a process
and an approach. Inside of any
negotiation, you are trying to solve a problem.
There is a gap. In order to get
clear on how to close that gap and how to support each other, it requires a
conversation. You have to ask questions
and be curious, get clear on what gaps exist, and determine how to close
them. Most negotiations aren’t
clear-cut. There is going to be some
ambiguity that you have to work through together. If you try to apply a cookie-cutter approach
to negotiation, you’re likely to get blindsided. You have to prepare without question, but you
also have to be able to adapt and have a productive conversation.
You write in A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating that a great negotiator does five
things well. What are they and which one is the most important? 1. Set the stage; 2. Find common
ground; 3. Ask with confidence; 4. Embrace the pause; 5. Know when to
leave. People tend to have the most
trouble with embracing the pause in negotiation. It’s often an overlooked part of the process
and the one that is the least comfortable for most people. Embracing the pause requires the most
intentionality and discipline. Our
natural tendency is to want to fill the space.
Instead, embrace the pause. It’s
when you determine who will make the next move, and you can learn a lot from
the move people make within the pause.
Very rarely does everything happen all at once in negotiation. A pause can serve many purposes: it projects
confidence in your position; creates anticipation and possibilities; limits
emotionality; and adds perspective.
Learn to embrace the pause.
What were some odd or unusual
things your clients had asked you to negotiate on behalf of?
You see it all, and it’s a reminder of how many factors come into play
during a negotiation. We all value different
things. A person might be negotiating
for a slight increase in salary, without taking into account other options
(vacation time, ability to work remotely, etc.) that might be more amendable. Always consider what’s not already on the table.
Athletes and coaches could get really creative with this. Some would want hotel suite accommodations on
the road negotiated into their contract, or country club memberships or free
childcare. We had one coach who really
valued a free dry cleaning deal. Some
who relocate for a job ask for X number of flights for their family to
visit. You have to get clear on what
matters most. It’s not always just about
As an agent-whether sports, real
estate, literary, financial—how do you show the value that you bring to the
table for a potential client? Whenever I pitched a client, I made sure to
keep the focus on them. I always wanted
to first understand what was important to them and what they valued in an
agent. Then I could shift the
conversation to how we would be able to drive value. Relationships and reputation were really
important. I would give a prospect our
client list and ask them, “Who do you want to talk to?” The best way for them to understand how I did
business was to hear it from someone else.
Of course, I would always provide comps and show them how we delivered
against the market for other clients but it is much more effective when they
hear it from someone in their position.
And then once you sign the client, it’s all about execution. You have to deliver.
Why should we be aware of the
role of gender in negotiations? In
my book, I talk about some of the gender stereotypes that still exist and how
they can be manipulated. Gender is
powerful, because either overtly or subtly, it can limit what we think we are
allowed to ask for, and if we ask at all.
There is a strong business case for diversity as we’ve seen reflected in
numerous studies. Recent findings from
researchers at MIT, Columbia University and Northwestern University found that
people in diverse groups are “more likely to step outside their own
perspective” than people in homogenous groups.
Now think about how important that is to a successful negotiation in
which a mutual win is sought. More
diversity in negotiation challenges our assumptions, forces us to better
articulate our positioning, and opens the door to more possibilities.
advice do you have for someone negotiating a raise or the acceptance of a job
initial offer is often the best time to negotiate, as evidenced by
statistics. A well-cited study estimates
that by not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than
$500,000 by age 60. Many employers
expect an initial negotiation, so it is a less intimidating time to negotiate. Even if you don’t negotiate, try to
understand the roadmap for your compensation so you can set the stage for a
future ask. Or consider whether there
are non-monetary items you can negotiate. When negotiating a raise, be sure to
set the stage. Know comparables. Be able to articulate how you have impacted
the company for the greater good, citing specifics. Make sure you have carefully considered the
timing of your ask. If you have done
your groundwork, the ask shouldn’t be totally unexpected.
You say the best shot at having a
successful negotiation happens when you establish 360-degree awareness. What is
that and how does one establish it? 360-degree awareness means that your vision
extends beyond your own perspective so that you understand the goals, needs,
gaps, values and fears of the other side.
It is what allows you to stay a step ahead and anticipate, because you
have taken the time to understand the negotiation from multiple perspectives
instead of just your own tunnel vision.
This anticipation and awareness makes you more prepared in your actions,
and more easily able to adapt. The data
you gain through 360-degree awareness will be even more valuable as your
strategy unfolds throughout the negotiation.
How is negotiating online an
asset or a setback to the process? Technology is great in the ways
it can connect us, but it definitely provides a shield that can do more harm
than good during the negotiation process.
We filter everything when we use online communication. If you choose not to communicate
face-to-face, you are losing important data and signals that otherwise provide
you with invaluable feedback. It’s much
more difficult to gauge hesitancy, energy level, timing, tone, etc.
online. Not only are you not getting the
reactions, you aren’t able to project your own confidence and enthusiasm. I always say don’t negotiate via email unless
you don’t care if the deal happens. That
may be harsh, but the more at stake, the more you risk by negotiating
do you know when to walk away from a deal? Negotiation can be messy, so understanding what you
are willing to give up and what you aren’t is critical. Play out the repercussions of every
move. Leaving should always be on the
menu. That’s one of the first mistakes
people make in negotiation—ignoring the possibility that walking away is even
an option. The idea of “no deal” after
all the work that has gone into the negotiation can be discouraging. I encourage you to always look back and see
what you can learn from the process for the next time. A successful negotiation will end with a
result that is better than your best alternative. If you settle for less than that; that’s most
likely what you will get.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014