4 Negotiating Techniques for the Modern Sports Organisation

Negotiation should be a fact of life in the modern sporting organisation. There exists a wide range of circumstances where management should be bargaining with counterparties to get a better deal for their organisation. This could be when dealing with partner and sponsorship agreements, broadcasting rights, event hosts and even members. In fact, it is arguable that situations involving bargaining are more varied and diverse for sporting organisations than they are even for traditional businesses. If your organisation is not negotiating, then it probably should be and you are most likely missing an opportunity.

However, negotiation is not an easy process. For many managers it is not a skill that comes naturally – it has to be learned and tailored over time. A reluctance to enter into what is seen as a confrontational situation means that many managers avoid negotiation and are therefore missing out on potential gains to be made.

So what advice can a novice negotiator look to when entering into such a situation? What can help make the process easier for them, as well as the counterparty sitting across the table? Below is a selection of hints and tools that can smooth the negotiation process and help your organisation take away more from the bargaining table.


  1. Be an active listener

This may seem like an obvious one but being a good listener is extremely important during the negotiating process. A good negotiator knows not only what the other person wants from a factual point of view, but also how they feel about different elements of the potential bargain. Knowing what the other person wants and sensing where and how they may be willing to make concessions is vital in any successful bargaining process.


  1. Demonstrate empathy

Simply knowing how the other person feels about their own position is not everything. It helps if you can also show empathy with your counterparty. By demonstrating a level of understanding with the person across the table, they will become more comfortable in dealing with you. They may be more willing to make a compromise a result. Simple ways to demonstrate empathy in bargaining situations is to avoid talking about your own position, to be an active listener as outlined above and to genuinely try to put yourself in the shoes of the other individual.


  1. Highlight your concessions

Almost every negotiation will involve some element of compromise. You are likely to have to concede ground on certain conditions, otherwise it wouldn’t be a negotiation at all. You need to make it very clear when you are giving up something in pursuit of agreement. This will set a marker and will automatically appeal to the counterparty’s socially-wired tendency to reciprocate.


  1. Segregate your concessions

Your concessions will be like mini-wins for the counterparty. By you giving up something, they are gaining something. The human brain automatically responds more to a series of small wins than from one big win. As a result, it helps to divide up your concessions and spread them out over the negotiation. By segregating concessions throughout the negotiation, you will increase the chances of the counterparty reciprocating on the other areas you are looking to make inroads into.


By keeping these 4 hints and tips in mind, managers can enter into negotiation situations confident that they enjoy an automatic head start. This can make the prospect of negotiating with suppliers, partners and other parties less daunting. Remember, if you don’t feel the need for negotiation in your various dealings at your organisation, you are probably missing some wonderful opportunities!


Leave a comment

Dan O'Toole
7 December, 2015

The importance of measuring performance in the modern sports organisation

Of course in the modern sports landscape, a more professional approach is needed and systematic performance measurement is a fundamental component of this. We have examined this previously in considering the application of the Balanced Scorecard to the modern sports organisation. But why is measurement so important? Why would is it wrong to let the various departmental objectives run on auto-pilot and go with gut instinct?

Dan O'Toole, TSE Consulting
12 November, 2015

4 Tips for Fundraising in the Modern Sports Organisation

While these organisations often engage in a significant amount of selling leading to revenue generation, they are also frequently reliant on the sourcing of funds from other external parties. A good start is to consider what the individuals behind these effectively unilateral funds consider when parting with their money. What traits do they seek in a recipient? What decision criteria to they consider when assessing how much is appropriate?

Axel Prélaz, Project Manager, TSE Consulting
21 October, 2015

Managing Communication at Work

It has never been easier to communicate. The digital revolution has brought with it a communications revolution, even if the most effective method of connecting with others remain verbal, as it has always been. However, miscommunication is still prevalent amongst many modern businesses and organisations. This is true whether they are SMEs, big international companies or sports bodies such as those that we here at TSE deal with every day. So what can modern organisations do to address these problems?

Sign up for updates from TSE Insights


Sign up for updates from The Academy Blog


Get FREE quarterly updates from TSE Consulting’s blogs straight to your inbox


TSE Consulting partners with Terre des hommes to support youth development projects

Our Offices

TSE Consulting offices

TSE Central (HQ)
Rue du Petit-Chêne 38
1001 Lausanne, Switzerland
PHONE: +41 21 313 23 00
FAX: +41 21 313 23 01

TSE North America
201 South Capitol, Suite 555
Indianapolis, IN, 46225, USA
PHONE: +1 317 714 3667
FAX: +1 317 829 5775

TSE Consulting Türkiye
4. Kısım Sonu
34158 Ataköy / İstanbul
PHONE: + 90 212 560 46 56

TSE Scandinavia
Kronprinsessegade 54
1306 København K, Denmark
Jørgen Hansen: +45 38 34 35 11
Ronnie Hansen: +45 36 96 56 65