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The Negotiators Negotiator


Lets watch a video today. I have learned a lot from watching YouTube videos, like how to fix my vacuum cleaner, or how to repair a broken garbage disposal and, recently, how to play the Stones "Brown Sugar" in the correct open G tuning. But what can YouTube show us about negotiating?

Most of us have seen YouTube clips from sales-oriented movies, like Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross. But a while back I was pleasantly surprised to find a great link to an ABC reality television show Id never seen called Shark Tank.  In each episode of this show, an entrepreneur tries to sell multi-millionaire investors on investing in his or her business. The young entrepreneur in the clip (Jonathan) is the epitome of a negotiator. This is a great video for broadcast salespeople to watch, because media salespeople are often so uncomfortable with negotiating a real deal.  As soon as a buyer puts on any pressure the salesperson craters.  Instead of negotiating with the client, we wind up negotiating with the sales manager. 

In some countries, you have to pay bribes to advertising agencies to get their business.  Here in America we call this added value. We routinely give away added value and bonus spots. In fact, agency buys seldom come down anymore without stipulating value-added guarantees.

Shamefully, this disturbing trend is now raising its ugly head with direct clients, and its no wonder.  Anxious to add billing, salespeople in every market size are actually volunteering added value, without the client even asking.  Do you enjoy working for free? Wouldnt you rather chase squirrels than spend one more Saturday hanging around at remotes with the scourge of humanity, those cheating, lying PRIZE PIGS?

Please click on the video link and then come back to the article when youve finished watching.

This video is wonderful on so many levels. Under tremendous pressure, the entrepreneur manages to stay focused. When an investor asks for more, Jonathan asks for more. He consistently draws conversation away from low offers and back to value. 

Heres the takeaway. When negotiating, try to keep the discussion focused on your VALUE and BENEFIT to your client, not your PRICE. There is no question that value can be perceived completely differently between two individuals, depending on the education of both sides. 

It is always in your best interest to make sure that you understand as much as possible about how your clients business works.  Of course, its equally important that you educate your client on the benefits of marketing and advertising, and how valuable your audience is to your clients bottom line.  Steer your client away from price and back toward value. For example, whats the value of one new customer to your client?

When asked to throw a number out there that youd entertain, he says, I cant negotiate with myself. I give you the power to pull the lever, and with those words, the tables are turned so that now the investors begin throwing out numbers, even the investor who said early on that, he who throws out the first number loses.

In the video, Jonathan states upfront that hes open to, hearing any offers that are out there. When things start to stall, he throws them a bone. If a greater equity was out therewould that interest you? With those words, the negotiation perks up again. As soon as he sees there is at least some interest in continuing, he goes back to selling value. But, he stands firm on why he will not just give away his company.

Even after being insulted by one of the potential investors, who says, Youre a great salesman, but youre not much of a businessman. Im out, Jonathan keeps his cool (by the end of the clip, we see just how good a businessman Jonathan turns out to be).

Best observation from one of the investors, Hes not selling the company, hes selling Jonathan, he says, smiling. Selling yourselfwhat in the heck is wrong with that?

Heres another takeaway from Jonathan. Propose bigger schedules from the beginning. You can always come down if you have to, but its harder to go up. By starting with what the investors were saying was a high price, Jonathan raises the bar on the value of his product.

What stands out the most for me in the video, is Jonathans stalwart resistance to caving. One of my friends in media sales said this after watching the video. That's awesome. Harvey MacKay once gave me great advice Never negotiate anything you wouldn't be willing to walk away from'."  Indeed.  Sometimes, you just have to walk away. After all, there are some things even a pig wont do.

Other good advice regarding negotiation, that its a two-way street. It sounds nit-picky, says Jonathan. But youve got to get to my negotiating range. Whats he doing here? Hes re-defining the boundaries of the negotiation. Oh, hes good, an investor says, smiling. Yes, he is. And, people respect a good negotiator.

Another takeaway from the video: Try to look at every possible side of a deal.  Every angle and detail, before and during the negotiation. Your ability to stay objective and flexible will be crucial to the outcome. If you are emotionally attached to any single issue, your ability to negotiate objectively is compromised. Dont fight to win a battle and then lose the war. Thats being pig-headed. Sacrifice smaller points to win bigger ones.

Negotiation is merely a learned skill that, if practiced regularly, becomes a natural instinct. Negotiation is simply the art of modifying the behavior of another person, toward a mutually beneficial conclusion. So, why does it have to be so awkward? Why do we feel we have to give up so soon? A successful negotiation is not a game with a winner and a loser. In order to have a successful negotiation, both sides must feel as though they have won. You are not there to destroy an opponent. Nor are you there to be destroyed. You are there to strike a deal where everybody believes that they have won something. Remember that you are working toward a common goal.

And, one final takeaway from the video. Turn your weaknesses into strengths. Jonathan never for one minute lacked confidence, despite his youthful appearance. In other words, if you look young, dont let your youth be mistaken for lack of experience or ability. The same goes with your race, your gender, your handicap, or any other issue that you think may be perceived as a weakness. Subtly point out your strengths and skills early in the discussion. If youre young, for example, older clients might appreciate your youthful perspective when it comes to marketing his product or service to a younger audience.

President John Kennedy once said, Let us never negotiate out of fear. And, let us never fear to negotiate.

Paul Weyland is an author, speaker, trainer, and coach. He works with broadcasters all over the world, helping them increase their local direct revenues, without having to sacrifice their rates. Read Pauls books, Successful Local Broadcast Sales and Think like an Adman, Sell like a Madman, available at or . Contact Paul at 512 236 1222 or at