The Final Negotiation
Madi is close. Really close. She has two scholarship offers from two outstanding colleges. Here are the offers as they stand:
1. X College is offering a $12,000 scholarship.
2. Z College, which is where Madi really wants to go, is offering $9,000
Rebecca, Madi’s mom, tells me: “My biggest concern is for Madi to be happy. She really doesn’t want to go to X College, but that extra $3,000 is going to make a difference. I look at this as a business transaction, a negotiation. Should we tell the coach at Z College about the X College offer and use that as a bargaining chip?”
“Hmm,” I say, knowing it’s more complicated that that. I happen to know that the coaches at Z College and X College are friends.
“The college coaching world is tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone else, so you have to tread lightly. If word gets around that you’re trying to play these guys off each other, they might decide that you’re someone they don’t want to be involved with.”
What’s So Great About Z College?
I ask Madi why she likes Z College so much more.
“I did what you said and visited both schools,” Madi says. “And I just felt at home when I was at Z College. I loved the coach, the players, the campus. I sat in on a class and was like, ‘This is what college is supposed to be.'”
Rebecca jumps in. “X College is pretty much out. We’re just keeping them around so we have some leverage. In reality, we’d do pretty much anything, including taking out bigger loans, to make it possible for Madi to go to Z College.”
Our Game Plan
“Alright,” I say. “Let’s make Z College happen and see if we can bump up that scholarship. But to be successful, we have to be respectful and not come across like we’re ‘wheeling and dealing.'”
We agree on the following course of action:
Rebecca and Madi are going to call the coach at Z College. This is a call where it makes sense for Rebecca to be on the line (as opposed to most recruiting calls, which are about players developing rapport with coaches.)
Madi is going to tell the coach that Z College is her top choice, that she loves everything about it.
Rebecca is going to say that she’s totally behind Madi, and that even though there’s another offer on the table for more money, she wants to do everything to make this happen.
She’s going to explain to the coach that financially, this is going to be a stretch for the family.
Then, instead of making demands like, “X College offered us $3,000 more. You need to match that, or we’re going elsewhere,” Rebecca is going to say, “Look, we really want to make this happen, even though there’s another offer on the table elsewhere for more money. What should we do at this point? Is there any way you can help? Do you have any advice?”
The beauty of this approach is that it will cast the coach in a consultative role, as a teammate, rather than an adversary in a tough negotiation. Our goal, I explain to Madi and Rebecca, is for the coach to get off the call highly motivated to help you, knowing that he has a wonderful player and person on the verge of committing, who just needs a little more help from him.
Courtesy of Captain U