n December, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt disclosed NBC would lose an estimated $200 million on the Winter Olympics. In a New York Times article yesterday, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports, said he would have preferred that Immelt wait to reveal the losses until the end of January “so it didn’t cause any disruption of sales.”
“When you say something like that,” Ebersol said, “advertisers think they’ll get a bargain, and we’ve told them there aren’t any.” In effect, Immelt decreased NBC’s leverage with its advertisers by disclosing that NBC is a bit desperate for revenue due to its expected loss, and that it had fewer competing advertisers for its spots.
What is the lesson here? All of the key internal stakeholders in a negotiation need to be on the same strategic page. Problems arise when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. To help prevent this, organizations should – for all their significant negotiations – create strategic negotiation plans and implement negotiation best practices. This includes identifying what strategic information should or should not be disclosed and ensuring all of the key stakeholders are aware of those strategic choices. Importantly, our ExpertNegotiator Planning and Management Software is designed to help you do this by allowing you to create online negotiation plans accessible by each stakeholder in your negotiation – thus ensuring you avoid problems like the one created by Immelt.