I’m sure everyone is pretty familiar with the Pareto 80/20 Rule. It seems to apply to almost every aspect of life – and in my view equally applies to contract negotiations.
If you can define those items that really matter to you both commercially and legally and focus on how you can put those in place then that’s a huge win – 80% of the issues will be dealt with by 20% of the clauses. The small stuff is still important but if you don’t get all of that in place, or use that to get the big stuff in place, then that’s not a bad position to end up in.
As a negotiator, it can be very difficult to not try and win every single point – negotiators tend to be very competitive. Lawyers also tend to be very cautious by nature – “what if” this is the clause that comes into question? “What if” this clause causes us an issue going forward? So instead of providing practical advice or focusing on those issues that will have the biggest impact, negotiators negotiate every point as if all points have the same significance. So spend a bit of time thinking about what really matters – and holding firm on those points. And then either using the small stuff to trade and get some quick wins to build trust and some momentum during the negotiation.