Bait and Switch
AKA: Fine Print, Too Good to be True
Description: He thinks he is negotiating for what’s behind “door #1”, but at the last minute you swap in a more advantageous variable (for yourself).
Intent: Manipulate value by swapping variables in a way favorable to you.
Sample Usage (Alvin and Bob): “Bob, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. We agreed that the StorageWorld contract would be split according to the new partnership. Now you’re telling me that I’m supposed to do this at the old contract rate?”
“I know, Alvin. It’s not ideal, but they moved up the schedule and decided we have to work with the existing templates that Simmons signed off on.”
“But what about all the work I’ve done? I never would have agreed to drop all my other projects to focus on StorageWorld if I had known we were just treating it as another short-term contract.”
“Alvin, it’s unfortunate, but this is the deal on the table. We can still turn this into a solid win, but we have to buckle down and get our final designs in by next Wed. If we can clear this last hurdle, we’ll be back on target. This doesn’t affect our long-term plans, but right now we have to work together.”
Category: Value Manipulator
PIHF (Power – Influence, Hope or Fear): Power or Fear. You are unilaterally changing the agenda, and that means either you have Power, or you think you can scare him into accepting disadvantageous terms.
Combination/Related: Fait Accompli, Take-away, Log Rolling, Policy, Secret Boss, and Upsell
Note: Bait and Switch is a classic with its roots in retail. A department store posts big ads for a special sale that brings in customers from miles away. Once they arrive, however, the eager bargain hunters are told their first choice is sold out or unavailable, but they can still get a good deal with a similar – but more expensive – substitute.
Bait and Switch also works in the corporate world. You propose a basket of variables that includes a high-value item that your counter-party really wants. Then you either use Take Away to replace the variable or Upsell to include new services and variables that he had never considered.
Bait and Switch works best when you are involved in a one-off sales or a string of transactions. It tends to undermine your credibility and make you a less-desirable strategic partner, but it can be effective.