The Art of the Deal
August 3, 2006 8:29 PM
We read a book in negotiations class in law school called “Getting to Yes” (by Roger Fisher and William Ury). It was a reason-based approach to negotiation and deal making. In the place of posturing, highballing or low-balling, we were encouraged to substitute reason. Instead of inflating an offer with the intent of haggling back to a reasonable deal, we were taught to make a reasonable offer in the first instance – and to back that offer with sound reasoning.
Now, all this talk of “reason” works in a reasonable world. And, sometimes the deal-making world can be reasonable. In fact, I have managed to make a lot of deals using this approach.
But, time and again, I still find myself up against (or sometimes on the same side as) old-school attorneys, agents or business affairs execs who think the world is their haggle zone – and take great pride in the fact that they can squeeze a little better deal out of the other side (by yelling, stomping, threatening or whatever).
But, how short-sighted is that?
We live and work in an industry that is all about repeat business. If a producer produces a hit for you – but has such a bad taste in her mouth after the deal-making process that she never wants to work with your network again – what a grave loss that is. And, if network execs would just as soon jab a fork in their legs as negotiate another deal with the attorney representing a producer ... that just can’t be good for business.
Two solid years after I tried to negotiate a triangulated deal between our company and two networks, a high powered executive from one of those networks still is so pissed off at the way the other network behaved in those negotiations that he literally goes out of his way to hurt the business prospects of the other network every chance he gets. What a price to pay ....
Deal-making karma always manages to find its owner ...