In a Forbes.com article last week, Jerry Kennelly, a 30-year Silicon Valley veteran, described a negotiation he was involved in while at Inktomi, one of the first internet search engines, as follows: “There were two of us, and when we went into the room we faced 14 people.”
Using the power in numbers ploy is a common negotiation tactic. For example, if you show up for what you think will be a one-on-one meeting and your counterpart brings along his technical expert and a secretary, you will be at a disadvantage because you lack your own expert and will end up with a less detailed written record of the commitments made during the session.
How can you avoid being strategically outnumbered?
Find out who will attend before the meeting. Don’t hesitate to negotiate this aspect of the agenda. If you still wind up outnumbered, ask your counterpart’s decision-maker to go to a nearby room to see if you can reach a deal. Ask, “You don’t need your entire team with you, right?”