Win-Win or Hardball: Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations

Claim your free copy from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Dear Negotiation Colleague,

Matt’s story says a lot about how to handle a challenging a contract negotiation.

Here’s how he tells it:

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved football. My mom attributes it to the fact that she watched the Sunday and Monday night games religiously during her pregnancy, and when I emerged into the world, my dad gave me a plush football as my very first toy.

I started off in Pop Warner, then became the quarterback of my high school team, and finally was recruited to play at Florida State.

But then the unimaginable happened: A nasty hit fractured my knee and crushed my dream of playing in the NFL.

Undeterred, I decided to become a sports agent. Because if you can’t play, then why not help those who can?

It was my first year in the business and I was desperate to expand my client base beyond kids at D3 universities with little chance of making it big. Then, I met Jonas Harrington. A junior at Iowa State, he had his eye on the NFL and the skill to make it happen. After several conversations, we decided to work together.

On the night of the draft, Jonas and I were probably equally nervous. But the odds were in our favor, and the Saints snapped him up in the second round.

Now a lot of the logistics and numbers are determined by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. But the main bone of contention was whether or not Jonas’ salary would be guaranteed. With all the things that could go sideways in football, this was a biggie. I had one shot and Jonas needed me to get the job done right.

As luck would have it, the week before I had attended a workshop on negotiation skills. In that three-day workshop, I learned how to solve problems, ease tensions and build consensus in contract negotiations.

Specifically, I learned how to:

Share information – Instead of assuming your interests are directly opposed to your counterparts’ interests, provide information that could lead to wise tradeoffs

Reject the “fixed pie” – It’s easy to assume that the pie of resources to allocate is fixed; when in fact there are opportunities to expand the pie by creating value

Avoid anchoring on the first offer – Don’t become overly affected by the first number entered into the negotiation

Set concrete goals – By setting concrete goals in advance, you won’t be swayed by other’s influence tactics, vivid stories, and hard-bargaining techniques

Take my time – When you’re pressed into making snap decisions, your thinking will be more intuitive and less rational

Avoid dwelling on the past – Past investments should rarely affect our decisions about the future

With all of this in mind, I walked into negotiations with the Saints feeling confident. The Saints offered to guarantee Jonas’ salary for the first and second year – but not the final two years of the four-year contract. That was a sticking point for us. The team also wanted to pay his signing bonus over the course of multiple years. Again, that wasn’t pro-Jonas.

But I had done my homework. I knew that it wasn’t unprecedented to offer a second round pick at least three guaranteed years. In fact, the Saints had just done it last year.

After several rounds of negotiation, I got Jonas three years guaranteed; plus, I was able to shave several months off his bonus payout. Jonas was happy. I was happy. And my phone has been ringing a lot more lately.

With a little more experience – and maybe a few more negotiation classes – I think I’ll be well on my way to building a serious roster of star athletes. Who would have thought that I’d finally make it from Pop Warner to the NFL? But with the right negotiation strategies, I can play in the big leagues with the best of them.

Matt’s success story is one we’ve heard time and time again at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Those who master the art and science of negotiation become better leaders. But it starts with building the right skills. And that’s where our latest free report comes in. In Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations, you’ll learn:

• How to handle negotiators who persist in haggling over a single issue – typically price

• How to convince the other party to discuss ways of creating value for both parties

• Ways to reduce the external pressures – like time – on a negotiation in order to come to a more collegial agreement

• How to analyze the market and consider the larger economic forces at play

• How to prepare several other options to explore in the event that your first choice doesn’t succeed

• Ways to improve your sense of psychological power so that you can perform at your best

• How to “manage your agent” in the event that you have someone else negotiating on your behalf

This fast-reading report – Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations – will also prepare you to answer some of the toughest negotiation questions like:

“This is my final offer. Take it or leave it. I need your answer right now. What’ll it be?”

“Why is this course of action the best one for our team?”

“What’s the lowest you’ll go?”

“Why are you the right person for the job?”

Don’t know the answers to these questions? You need this special report.

By preparing for a negotiation – athletic or otherwise – and anticipating your answers before you’re confronted with a challenging question, you can avoid a costly mistake.

Get the Most Out of Your Negotiation Training

Have you already taken some negotiation training? If you’re like many people, you may have taken a class or read a book about negotiation. But the hardest part can be translating your “book knowledge” to the “real world.”

With this free report, you can gain the strategies you need to apply your new negotiation skills successfully. For example:

1. Be ready to make mistakes – Negotiation training can be a humbling experience. By embracing your “needs improvement” areas, you can get on the path to becoming a better negotiator.

2. Take a proactive approach – Beyond taking notes, think about how negotiation concepts apply to your own negotiations. By making your learning “real,” you can better apply it outside the classroom.

3. Practice your new skills – It’s true, practice makes perfect. Don’t assume that because you’ve read it in a book, that it will naturally become part of your negotiation skill set. By actively applying new strategies – even if it’s just with your friends and family – you’ll be better able to put your new skills to work when you need them the most.

Gain a Competitive Edge

Sports negotiations are some of the toughest negotiations you’ll ever encounter. So if you can master these unique strategies like the ones found in Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenging situations you’ll encounter in work and in life.

Why are sports talks so tough? Well, it all comes down to three key hurdles:

1. The presence of agents – Agents can add value but they also have many relationships with different teams and players – a clear conflict of interest.
2. Lack of alternatives – With the draft system, players are required to negotiate with one particular team, which is quite limiting.
3. No zone of agreement (ZOPA) – Agents and sports teams often begin their negotiations miles apart in an area referred to as NOPA (no zone of agreement).

But don’t worry, there are ways to overcome these significant challenges, and you’ll find them in Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations.

You’ll learn how to:

Manage your agent – When you allow others to speak for you, it’s important to give your agent clear instructions about your long-term goals and interests.

Create alternatives – While it may seem like there are precious few alternatives, think creatively and discuss ways to create value for both parties.

Examine constraints – By looking carefully at the deal and the landscape you can help move the negotiation from a NOPA to a ZOPA.

Learn how to Negotiate in the Big Leagues with this Free Special Report

Curated from several articles in Harvard’s Negotiation Briefings newsletter, this report contains the most important, most relevant information you need to negotiate the best outcomes for you and your company.

As you’ll soon see, there’s a lot more to sports negotiation than screaming “show me the money!” like Tom Cruise in the movie Jerry Maguire. Read this free special report to gain tools, strategies, and knowledge that you can apply to your own business negotiations.

I urge you to download your complimentary copy of Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations, right now. Simply click the button below.

I promise – it’s well worth your time.

With my sincere best wishes for your business negotiation success,

Robert H. Mnookin
Samuel Williston Professor of Law
Faculty Chair, Program on Negotiation
Harvard Law School

P.S. Are you ready to go toe-to-toe with hard bargainers?

Get the skills, strategies, tips, and tricks you need to compete in the NFL, the NBA, or a boardroom.

You don’t have to be a sports agent to download your free copy of Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations. Here’s how:

You can download a complimentary copy of our special report, Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations, right now!

Discover how to handle difficult negotiations in this free special report, Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations, from Harvard Law School.

Simply click the button below. We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new advice and information on how to improve your business negotiation skills to our website.

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