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A Winner's Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done

A Winner's Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done

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A Winner's Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done

247 pagine
3 ore
Aug 29, 2014


The strategic guide to getting the most out of every negotiation from "the female Jerry Maguire" (CNN)

Effective negotiation is rooted in establishing trust and building relationships--one conversation at a time. In this practical guide, trailblazing sports agent Molly Fletcher reveals her proven approach to landing more than $500 million worth of deals throughout her career. It all comes down to doing five things well:

  • Setting the Stage
  • Finding Common Ground
  • Asking with Confidence
  • Embracing the Pause
  • Knowing When to Leave

Master these steps and you'll not only close more deals--you'll be setting yourself up for the next big one.

"A great negotiator and a great storyteller has mined her deep experience in one of the most pressurized arenas of American business. This book is a road map for anyone who wants to learn how to win negotiations of any kind." -- LARRY KRAMER, president and publisher of USA Today

"Negotiating well is indispensable to success. Whether from the stage or in this book, Molly will inspire you. A Winner's Guide to Negotiating will change your life by changing your conversations. A must-read for every business professional." -- DONNA FIEDOROWICZ, senior vice president at the PGA TOUR

Aug 29, 2014

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A Winner's Guide to Negotiating - Molly Fletcher


Molly Fletcher is a trailblazer within the sports industry. As one of the first female sports agents, she built a client base that includes some of the biggest names in sports both on and off the field. Molly has had a positive influence on her clients and on the many who look up to her.

Molly has been a hit as a speaker at many PGA TOUR Executive Women’s Days, sharing her powerful message with executives at PGA TOUR events around the country. A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done shares her unique perspective and insight gleaned from years of successful negotiating. This book is a useful tool to help you prepare for this important skill.

—Tim Finchem, commissioner of the PGA TOUR

Many assume strong negotiations are only conducted adversarially, nose-to-nose. Molly Fletcher demonstrates how a shoulder-to-shoulder approach, rooted in trust, giving, communication, and relationships drives ideal outcomes while building sustainable benefit and positive reputations. This book is a must-read and a must-follow for anyone who wants to be more effective.

—Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon, Inc. and cofounder of Changers of Commerce

For Molly, negotiating breakout wins is muscle memory from honed fundamentals. This book provides useful tools to those who want to learn how to get dramatic deals done. A must-read.

—Sarah Palisi Chapin, partner and CEO of Hail Merry Snack Foods

In A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating, Molly Fletcher proves that successful negotiation is not an accident. Fresh, highly relevant, and easy to read, this book will be a game-changer for anyone who negotiates anything. A must-read for you and everyone on your team!

—Tommy Newberry, New York Times bestselling author of The 4:8 Principle and Success Is Not an Accident

Powerful lessons told in an incredibly engaging way through stories we can all relate to. I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to absorb every single lesson!

—Debbie Storey, senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer at AT&T

Copyright © 2015 Molly Fletcher by McGraw-Hill Education. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

ISBN: 978-0-07-183880-1

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To Fred, Emma, Meg, Kate,

Mom, Dad, Jim, and John


FOREWORD by Larry Kramer



1  Setting the Stage

2  Finding Common Ground

3  Asking with Confidence

4  Embracing the Pause

5  Knowing When to Leave

6  The Power of Gender

7  Going Forward




Great negotiators understand the power of stories. Stories connect us, and connection is at the heart of successful negotiations. The more you know people’s stories, the more you see what they want and fear, what they will give up, and what they need to protect. Stories cut through the noise of daily life and constant information to provide understanding and meaning. The very best storytellers have always been the people with the greatest reach and influence.

In our dramatically changing digital world of multiple platforms and technology, storytelling is morphing. The speed and urgency of business is increasing. Now more than ever, a negotiator’s success depends on integrity. There is so much information and data available to everyone today that it is even more critical to be a trusted source. Negotiating well depends on trust.

In this book, a great negotiator and a great storyteller has mined her deep experience in one of the most pressurized arenas of American business—negotiating professional sports contracts. Molly Fletcher understands the narrative of a successful deal and moves fluidly between five transparent, powerful steps. These steps are her code that helps her see the next possible move in a negotiation, prepare well, and maximize the results. Her personal anecdotes—often fascinating situations from her real-life experiences involving well-known sports figures—make these lessons easy to learn. This book is a prime example of storytelling to demystify a skill that is critical for success in business and relationships. It uses the case method to teach its lessons.

Great negotiators aspire to Molly’s reputation for impeccable reliability, influence, and leadership. This is far from easy among wary clients like those in pro sports. Often, their careers are relatively brief. A lot of money is at stake. She faced another challenge: her clients were used to seeing men in her role. Creating the emotional attachments necessary for success takes a lot of guts; double that for a groundbreaking pioneer like Molly.

Reading her stories, I am reminded of her equal measure of grace. Because she knows that the heart of negotiations is strong relationships, she can salvage the opportunity to try again even when a deal falls apart. Few people can maintain relationships as authentically as Molly, and this book is her clear road map for readers to get to that pinnacle. As you read the book, you also realize that in order to be a great storyteller and great negotiator, you have to start by being a great listener. Understand your subjects by listening to them, and understand your counterparts on the other side of the table by truly hearing what they are trying to accomplish in your negotiation.

Today, so many voices vie for our attention on any subject, from the mundane to the most important. Molly’s is one worth listening to about a skill that we all could be better at. With regard to negotiation and relationships, she nails it. By reading this book and applying its lessons, you can, too.


President and publisher of USA Today

Founder of MarketWatch

Author of C-Scape: Conquer the Forces Changing Business Today


This book is the result of a team effort.

My gratitude goes out to my amazing, wonderful, and awesome husband, Fred. His humble brilliance and support of our daughters and me are magical. He is an all-star father to our three daughters, Emma, Meg, and Kate. His professional success in commercial real estate and personal passion for solving fifth-grade math problems for our girls don’t go unnoticed. He is the coach for everything, a leader—and even Santa Claus. Really close to perfect. I learn from him and am grateful for his strong faith and consistent love. Thank you to my girls, who are at the heart of my every decision and who keep me centered. They are each magically unique, despite all three being just 12 months apart in age (singleton and then twins). They are like sponges, and I wake up every day hoping to fill their sponges so they can enter the world and be their best selves.

Thank you to my parents and my brothers, who laid the foundation for much of my formative experiences around deal making and the philosophies that I now share with numerous corporate audiences and clients around the country. Whether negotiating my way out of getting beaten up by my big brothers or listening to my parents’ stories from work, I learned every day that deals are everywhere—and so are the tools to make them work for me. Some of the most important negotiations involved ensuring that my brother didn’t lick all my mom’s amazing chocolate chip cookies when they came out of the oven.

Thank you to my team, especially Sprague Paynter, whose brilliance and support helped build the framework for this book, and Tiffany Allen, who scoured our sources, stories, and stats for the book. Without your support, this book wouldn’t be here today.

Thank you to Michelle Hiskey, a brilliant writer who I am truly honored to have supporting me in the writing of this book. She knows sports, she knows me, she knows deals, and she is smart as heck. I am humbled to have her as a partner on this project.

Thank you to my agent, John Willig, a man of high integrity with healthy and transparent relationships. Thank you to my editor, Casey Ebro, for her guidance and support. It’s an honor to be a member of her team at McGraw-Hill. They made the process fun and efficient.


Icrouched in the closet in my daughter’s bedroom on Easter weekend 2007. It’s not exactly where most sports agents do their deals, but that is where I found myself trying to negotiate to keep a big client, Michigan State head basketball coach Tom Izzo.

Tom and I are good friends today, but in that moment you would not have known it. News travels like lightning in the small universe of college basketball’s elite coaches, and his future and our relationship were on the line.

What unfolded that week of the NCAA Final Four, the pinnacle of Tom’s sport, was a chess match. Anything can happen in high-stakes negotiation, and no matter what you’re negotiating, no doubt the stakes are high to you.

Izzo is a brilliant college basketball coach, an eight-time national coach of the year, a guy who sends players to the NBA all the time, and someone who—like most at his level—doesn’t want to be taken for granted. As a seasoned sports agent, neither did I. However, I knew there were a few agents who could take my place but there was only one Tom Izzo.

In the middle of the Final Four, Kentucky expressed interest in Tom. If you know anything about college basketball, you know this is one of the most high-profile positions in all of coaching, one that almost every college coach would entertain. But like most negotiations, this one was a delicate dance between Tom’s passion for Michigan State and what the folks in the Bluegrass State were looking for in their next head coach.

Some coaches are so hungry for a certain position or university that they will literally beg for the job, but Izzo had told us that under no circumstances would he do that. We’ll interview them as much as they interview you, we agreed.

Kentucky, though, had many choices. First, they offered the job to Billy Donovan, another client of ours, who quickly said no the day after the Final Four. Next, they turned to Rick Barnes, the coach at Texas. When Barnes turned them down, their egos were bruised, and so they moved to a hurry-up offense. They wanted desperately for someone to say yes, someone who would crawl to Lexington to coach.

Athletic directors certainly don’t call agents to let them know their next move, and so we try to find out their moves through inside sources as quickly as possible. But the move from Donovan to Barnes surprised us. We thought their next ask would certainly be Tom.

Only it wasn’t. The call went to Billy Gillispie. Not Tom Izzo. In my opinion, this was because they knew Gillispie would take it for sure.

I was in bed asleep at 2 a.m. when Izzo called. I had barely answered when Tom launched into me. I had seen him countless times on the sidelines of the court, down to the last seconds of close games, and knew he had this kind of temper, but it had never been unleashed on me. After all, I was the person he counted on to help him and the reason he hired our firm five years earlier. He knew we delivered.

After an hour of unloading his frustration on me, he hung up. All I had was a dazed oh my feeling. What just happened? Trust is everything in my business, and it wasn’t just Izzo I might be losing.

But my oldest daughter, then age five, needed me. When she woke up, I hustled to her room to rub her back so that she could go back to sleep. In five minutes, she was sound asleep, but when she awakened again at 6 a.m., I was still staring at the ceiling.

Word of mouth is everything, and the trust I had carefully nurtured with Izzo was the foundation of our relationship and my ability to reach out to more elite coaches and represent them. Was it all crashing down now?

I knew I needed Izzo, but I didn’t need anyone to speak to me like that. There were serious consequences for tolerating it. Backing down to him could make me a doormat, which would also doom my negotiating position. We and Tom knew that Kentucky’s first ask had been Billy Donovan, and so I paced for two days trying to figure out my next move. Sleepless. Before I could negotiate for Izzo, I had to negotiate with Izzo and with myself.

As an agent, I work in a tight gap between where elite performers like Izzo shine and where they want to—or could—go next. There are multiple layers of complexity in that space. Time may be the biggest factor. For top athletes, the window to excel is very small, and seizing that moment means everything. Payroll caps, free agency, the threat of arbitration, even trends like money ball are some of the many other factors at play. Like the levels of a video game, these challenges and nuances are what make me love what I do, and negotiating is at the heart of everything.

For 20 years I’ve negotiated contracts and branding deals for 300 clients, including top pro athletes, broadcasters, coaches such as Izzo, universities, manufacturers, and teams. Together, I’ve done probably more than $500 million in deals—from a record-setting ball, shoe, glove deal with Nike and appearances after a Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown to a multimillion-dollar contract for John Smoltz and multiple contracts for Cy Young winners, all-stars, Hall of Famers, and Emmy Award–winning broadcasters. As one client remarked, You could stack up all the contracts you have negotiated and walk right up ’em to the top of your office building.

None of the deals are linear, but neither is life. As a mother of three, I’ve negotiated deals while standing on the sidelines of my kids’ soccer games. I’ve been in the heat of hopscotch when deals were closed, which isn’t all that different from sitting at the head of a boardroom table— if you have your head in the right place. I buy pajamas with pockets for my cell phone but figured out how to tuck my phone into my wristband for even easier access. As with parenting or any deep relationship, negotiating well means always being ready. The most rewarding deals for me aren’t the ones that are the most lucrative but the ones that change lives. I make 4 to 20 percent of what I negotiate, and so my family and I also benefit in real dollars when I bring a client the best deal possible. I’ve learned by watching great negotiators, understanding my own thresholds, and creating a systematic approach that pays off with consistent high-level results.

If you learn nothing else from me, know this: effective negotiation is a conversation, a relationship, a rhythm built over time. At the heart of my success is managing relationships well so that conversations keep going, stay open, and spark more conversations, because the seeds of your next negotiation are planted in the one you are doing right now. A negotiation is a story, and good negotiators are like bestselling novelists who know the characters so well that nothing they do is surprising.

A negotiator studies the most important decision makers. He or she finds out their fears and desires, what they will give in to, and what they will not let go of without losing a part of themselves. Negotiating is more important than ever today as traditional business structures are disintegrating. We are more likely to negotiate for our own package deals than ever before. Even if you are with a long-term employer, you may find yourself negotiating to keep that job or for benefits such as flextime. Marriage is an ongoing negotiation, as is parenting. All your relationships are. Negotiations force you to communicate what is most important to you, and we all can be better at it.

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