Needling in Negotiations: The Longer List Wins

May 10, 2014

in Negotiation

I recently ran across an excellent James Altucher post on negotiation. One part stood out to me:

Have more items than they have. Let’s say you are negotiating a book advance. They offer a $10,000 advance and they can’t budge higher.

That’s fine. Now make your list of other things: how much social media marketing will they do, what bookstores will they get you into, who has control over book design, what percentage of foreign rights, of digital rights, you can get. Do royalties go up after a certain number of copies are sold, will they pay for better book placement in key stores, will they hire a publicist? And so on.

Before every negotiation. Make a list. Make the list as long as possible. If your list is bigger than theirs (size matters) then you can give up “the nickels for the dimes”.

This is not just about negotiation. This is to make sure that later you are not disappointed because there is something you forgot. Always prepare. Then you can have faith that because you prepared well, the outcome will also go well.

This made me remember a negotiation I once had a long time ago. After deciding on the general deal parameters, we sat down to go through the rest of the items. My counterpart had a laundry list of items he cared about. My list was super short. I ended up having to concede more than he did because whenever he had to give up something on his list, there was something I was giving up too. I had no ammo with which to fight against the laundry list.

This strategy is called needling. I googled the term and found that Ike used this tactic with the Russians too. It’s useful to know.

What are your favorite negotiation tactics?

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