The Key to Negotiations: Know When to Use Your Cards

Not in my wildest dreams growing up did I think that one day I would have an association with the New York Yankees. But now, Yankees-Steiner Collectibles is approaching its 10th anniversary. From game-used product sales and auctions, to the Yankees-Steiner store at Yankee Stadium and the sale of the contents of old Yankee Stadium, this partnership has been a complete game-changer for Steiner Sports.

But it almost didn't happen.

Back in the early in 2000’s I went to every team of every sports league trying to work a deal on game-used jerseys, equipment, etc. Nobody would take a meeting. Then, there was a point where the late George Steinbrenner had been creating some trouble for me. He had been telling players that Steiner Sports was a questionable company and he thought we were stealing equipment out of the clubhouse or something to have people sign. I thought he was going to take away my season tickets!

So, to clear up any confusion and uncertainty (as there certainly was a lot of that about the memorabilia business in those days), Casey Close, Derek Jeter’s long-time agent, got me a meeting with Randy Levine, Lonn Trost and Brian Cashman of the Yankees.

We’re in the middle of the meeting and knowing how people felt about the memorabilia business at the time, I had to use my biggest card. Steiner Sports was at that time and is to this day, a part of Omnicom, the largest advertising conglomerate in the world. I said to them, “You know, Steiner is a public company. I can’t be sneaking around the clubhouse taking things out of players’ lockers. I’m accountable!”

That surprised them, “Huh? You’re part of Omnicom?” And that’s when the whole conversation changed…and I knew it would.

At the time the Yankees had just started the YES Network and my thought process in revealing that information was there could be some synergy between Omnicom and the Yankees to work on some advertising. This definitely helped get their attention.

The point here is that I had information that I knew would shift Randy, Lonn and Brian’s perspectives about my business and I used it strategically. This earned their trust was one of the key building blocks to creating Yankees-Steiner Collectibles. That’s why it’s so important to know when to use your cards because they will help you reach your goals.

So, how do you strategize when you take a meeting? What are some of your best practices when negotiating?

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