Recently I found myself negotiating with a former NFL football player. When I gathered information about this individual (always gather background information on the individual(s) that will be participating in the negotiation), I thought it might be a difficult session. Turns out I was right. This player's career ended in the early 90's and his demeanor was one of I'm still 'Mr. Big'. He had a win-lose mentality, or at best, a mentality of scarcity.

When I first spoke to him, via the phone, his demeanor was cold, to the point, and somewhat icy. I tried to build rapport, but I could tell in an instant, 'he wasn't having any of that.'

While we were only $200,000 apart from closing the deal, a finder's fee of 10%, on the $200,000 he was due to receive, caused the deal to become entangled. He was adamant and to the point, about not paying a 10% finder's fee. I wondered if he didn't want to pay the fee, because of a link he had back to the time of his playing days. After confirming and experiencing the fact that he was not the 'warm and fuzzy' type, I decided to use the 'take away' strategy and let him know that initially there was $80 million worth of opportunities and $50 million, along with an additional $10 million that had been allocated for someone else, had already been taken. In addition, I told him the person that acquired the $50 million opportunity paid an additional $275,000 in the form of a premium to make sure he got the deal.

The ex-football player was an individual that was 'high strung' and focused on the fact that he was giving up 10% of $200,000 of which was pure profit from him. His perspective was focused on the 10% he was giving up, compared to the 90% he was gaining. In the end, someone else got the deal and happily paid the 10% fee. The ex-football player lost the whole deal and because of his demeanor and attitude, he will not be in the upper tier of investors the client, on whose behalf I was negotiating, will reach out to in the future. In the end, you could say, the ex-football player fumbled the deal.

When you negotiate, if you can help it, never take a win-lose approach to negotiating. Focus on what you want from the negotiation, but also pay attention to how you can help the other person get what they want. If you get the lion's share consider yourself lucky, but don't set out with an attitude that you have to have the lion's share, if a more equitable deal can be struck. Give more so you can get more. If not on this occasion, keep an eye to the future. If you 'brow beat' someone in one situation, they may take deals that you may have been exposed to away from you. If you want to get more from a negotiation session, give the other person as much as you can without hurting yourself ... and everything will be right with the world.

The negotiation lessons are ...

· Always have alternate ways to reach your goal.

· Never be afraid to walk away from a deal. You won't win every negotiation you're in.

· Make sure you focus on what you need and set out to get as much of it as possible, while balancing your needs against the other person's desires. Remember, there could be a next time, when you might need what that person has.

Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator


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