Improve Your Negotiations With The 5 Golden Rules.   LEARN THEM

The Phoenix Coyotes professional hockey franchise is facing a bankruptcy court auction this week. One likely bidder is Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research In Motion (which makes the Blackberry). He wants to relocate the team to Ontario, a move opposed by the NHL. While Balsillie will likely be the high bidder, the NHL is arguing his bid should be rejected by the judge in part because of a dispute over the relocation fee Balsillie would have to pay the league. The amount of such a fee is unclear.

So, Balsillie hired a consultant who determined a reasonable relocation fee would be in the $11.2 to $12.9 million range, which includes payments to nearby teams for damage to their franchises. The NHL hired two consultants who determined the fee would be in the $101 million to $195 million range, not including payments to nearby clubs.

Using “fair” objective criteria to justify your position can be very effective. Here, both parties are employing experts to attempt to convince the judge of the “fairness” and “reasonableness” of their respective positions. Experts derive their power from both their actual expertise and knowledge and their perceived knowledge.

What should you do if your counterpart has an expert or an expert opinion? Find an expert to provide you with an opinion that supports your side and attempt to undermine the credibility of the other side’s expert. A battle of the experts will then ensue, potentially giving both sides more credibility and a greater ability to justify their position.

How can you undermine your counterpart’s expert? Closely examine their credentials, qualifications, independence and objectivity and find out their compensation arrangement. A large fee may undercut their perceived independence and objectivity.

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