Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

Name: 6 of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

AKA: Pick One.

Intent:   Convince your counter-party to choose between two packages of value that are both equally favorable to you.

Style: Appears Collaborative but can be fairly competitive if your duel proposal is set high enough.

Counter: Cherry pick the parts of both packages that are most favorable to you, and then make it more favorable by 20%.

Combinations: This works best as the first counter. Your opening will be more aggressive, and this works best as your first concession.

Example: Bob wants to hire Alvin’s design firm to build an app for a client’s retail business. He offers Alvin a choice of two proposals:

  • finish the work on a 4-week deadline with unlimited revisions (over 6 months) for a fee of $20,000;

  • or take 6 weeks with 3 revisions over the course of a year for $17,500.

While it may seem that Bob is giving his counterpart an attractive choice, the fact is that he is hijacking the agenda and attempting to force Alvin to accept his terms.

Let’s look at Bob’s real agenda. Remember – Bob is hiring Alvin to perform a service.

 

Price

Deadlines

Revisions

Like (for Bob)

17,500

4 Weeks

Unlimited

Intermediate

20,000

6 Weeks

3 Revisions

Need it – or no deal

23,000

8 Weeks

1 Revision

Bob is a fairly aggressive negotiator, so he would be sure to anchor first with an aggressive proposal — offering Alvin $17,500 for a tight deadline of 4 weeks, and unlimited revisions to the project as the client’s wants and needs became more clarified. This is a great deal for Bob – quick, cheap, and safe (since Alvin would be on the hook for an open-ended service contract). Alvin would, of course, push back – and he might even introduce his own variables, such as ownership of the intellectual property or cash up-front.

6 of 1 is Bob’s way of orienting the negotiation to ensure a favorable outcome. Let’s look at it more closely:

 

Variable 1

Variable 2

Variable 3

Like   (for Bob)

A A

A

Intermediate

B

B

B

Need C C

C

He frames his counter-offer this way:

         Option 1:    Var 1: B   Var 2: A   Var 3: A

         Option 2:    Var 1: A   Var 2: B   Var 3: B

As you might be able to guess, Bob is indifferent between Option 1 and Option 2. They are both favorable to him. Even if Alvin responds “aggressively” and demands the best of both — $20,000 with a 6 week deadline and limited post-delivery service – Bob would still be right in the middle of his range. He would then find it relatively easy to lift Alvin on price and maybe shave a week off the deadline – effectively closing somewhere between his Like and Intermediate range. Good deal for Bob.

6 of 1 works best when there is a wide range of potential variables and the deal includes service or some other highly subjective measure. The key is to create two bundles of variables that you consider to be of equal value, and then make the counter-party feel that the choice is all his. If you deploy this one correctly, you’ll stay well above your bottom line.

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