Negotiating for a Win-Win

Negotiating for a Win-Win

Over the years, I have negotiated many deals. Some were sponsorship agreements from the property side, others from the brand side, and then for our services here at the Partnership Group – Sponsorship Specialists®. I deliver a workshop on negotiation, but what I like best, I think, is observing negotiations and supporting our clients through them.

When most of us think about negotiations, we presume there must be a winner and a loser. But both sides negotiate to look like they won—even if they didn’t. They start out with absurd demands, then make concessions to come to where they believe they are good and still winning. Think of unions and management negotiations. Think about buying a car or house, or negotiating for a silver (supposedly) bracelet on the beach in Mexico. You need to whittle them down—then you can do the deal.

I typically try a different approach. My goal in any negotiation is to ensure each party gets what they need, and if they cannot, move on. In such a scenario, I need to ask questions. I must know what they need to have the project, house closing, or whatever by a certain date. Once I understand that, I can try to solve the problem—and make a concession that allows us to achieve their goal and mine. For instance, they want to be presenting sponsor of an event, but they have no budget left this year. So their answer is “no” in the solicitation/negotiation process. Once I understand why they cannot do it this year, I may be able negotiate a deal that brings them in this year for no charge and the deal is five years long, but they pay a 25% premium for the next four years. I still get the total revenue over term, just on a different payment schedule.

By asking questions and understanding their needs, I create a supportive versus combative discussion or negotiation. When someone says they need an extra table or a second banner, rather than negotiate on additional price and costs, I ask why? Perhaps they say they have a group of clients they want to bring to the event. So, rather than charge for the table, can I get an intro to that company after the event? Rather than sell a $1,000 gala table, I might get a $20,000 sponsor down the road. Or maybe the second banner is for another division in their company. Maybe I can enhance their activation through this second brand. When we ask “why” versus trying to play the give-and-take” game, we usually meet each other’s needs and strike a win-win deal!

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