Exclusivity Deals and Negotiating Strategy

Mark Suster has a great post up about negotiating exclusivity deals. His argument is that the conventional wisdom that startups should never offer exclusivity (an agreement to not sell a product to certain customers) is wrong. He points out that offering exclusivity can get partners to agree to strategic deals that they’d never agree to otherwise, like AT&T letting Apple own the customer experience on the iPhone in exchange for selling iPhones only on AT&T’s network.

It’s also a useful article because it’s an example of how to game plan for a negotiation. Suster thinks carefully about what the potential partner’s interests are, what your interests are likely to be, and then outlines a sequence of positions you can take in an effort to secure your partner’s interests while protecting as many of your own as possible. First try A, if that doesn’t work, fall back to B. It’s the sort of thing you should do before every negotiation.