Don’t Fall into the Data Set Trap! Avoiding a Common Physician Negotiation Mistake

Don’t Fall into the Data Set Trap! Avoiding a Common Physician Negotiation Mistake

Negotiating over the wrong thing is just as bad as not developing a Negotiation Strategy in the First place!

Data is in our DNA.



Physicians are scientists by training. And more importantly we are not theoretical scientists, we apply our scientific knowledge everyday in our management of patients. Due to this need to make the best decision, we have become experts in the practical application of data. Nearly every major conference or national set of protocols are based on how we interpret data. Data is not an abstract to us. We live data the way a banker may live the Phillips curve or an actor may live the Stanislavsky's method.

Although using evidence-based decision making often leads to better patient care, it can be a trap for physicians at the bargaining table.

Oftentimes, getting mired in defending or dissecting a market value data set will lead to a worse outcome for the physician!



An example of a Data Set trap:

You have a well-researched market value report. You review the data and decide that you desire to build your negotiation strategy around the 75% percentile regional data for 1-2 years of experience. After a few concessions you use you use the negotiation technique of a “bogey” to throw out that number to create a counter to an anchor. Instead of giving you a concession, your future boss asks you where you came up with that number. Instead of saying, “From industry standard data and other offers I am currently considering” you fall for the trap and tell them your data set information. Now you are trapped! You’ve lost leverage. You’ve committed to a specific data set in a specific model. You now have to agree to a data set model or risk losing your integrity

Your future boss says, “we use starting placement salary at the 50th percentile for national placement”. Then you are off to the races. You have to go back and forth defending the dataset rather than using your other leverage points to get the best offer. Ultimately, you will not end having to give concessions on your model to reach agreement. You will also have limited the ability to negotiate to deadlock and come back with a higher offer from another practice.



Editor: In negotiation there is a common saying- “if you’re not at the table, you are on the menu”! If the terms “market value report”,” bogey”, “counter”, “anchor”, “concession”, “leverage”, and “deadlock” are foreign to you, then you are about to be eaten alive by the sharks! Negotiation is the single most vital professional skill for physicians. Yet, so few have any formal training. You owe it to yourself to become skilled. At we help doctors negotiate their best physician contracts. Check out our educational products. We also can provide high quality market value reports.



What is the goal of a negotiation?

Sometimes, the easiest questions are the most profound. And the hardest to answer.



Why do two parties enter into a negotiation?

Ultimately, the purpose is to get the best mutually satisfying outcome while improving upon your BATNA- your “Best Alternative To the Negotiated Agreement”.

Let’s dig into this statement a little bit.

First off, you are trying to get your best outcome. This is an important and overlooked concept. You are not trying to get the median wRVU to compensation package for Endocrinologists in Kansas City. You need to realize a few things:

  • Your future bosses may be willing to offer a much higher compensation package than the median.
  •  Market Value reports give you an idea of national and regional markets, but not your exact practice. They may be desperate to full coverage or schedule holes. Your future boss may be feeling pressure from the president of the hospital to hire someone with your skill set. The moment you limit yourself to the “average” compensation package, you’ve lost a chance at much more.
  •  Employers have the same data you have if you’ve purchased a well-researched market value report. They would like nothing more than to lock you into a database value that favors them by using the data against you.
  •  Your secondary goal is to do better than your BATNA. Your data set will not fully tell you your BATNA. Only multiple offers can truly give you an idea of your worth.
  • No negotiation comes to agreement unless both parties mutually benefit.



The Importance of a Market Value Report.

You don’t know what you are worth, until you know what you are worth!

Although you can trace most data set traps to the failure to use the market value report properly, you’d be crazy to sit down at the bargaining table without a market value report. It’s the single most important piece of information you must have before negotiating. Please don’t make the mistake of interpreting this blog post as an argument against knowing your market value. But, like all tools, you must learn to use it properly.



How to avoid the Data set Trap

There are several key methods I teach my client to avoid the data set trap. Like all negotiation techniques, you really need to undergo several practice negotiations with an expert to master the process. So, please plan on some mock sessions as part of your negotiation planning.

  •  Understand the purpose of the Market Value report
    • The market value report is meant to develop Anchor/Counter offer, Reasonable salary ranges, no-salary compensation elements like signing bonuses, a concession strategy, and a BATNA if one is not currently available
  • Do not lock yourself into a certain value or strategy for generating your compensation plan. You must stay flexible sign surprises always pop up.
  • Never reveal your source of information or hand over your data set
    • If the other party quote specific data ask them to supply the complete data set to you.
  •  Learn how to divert the discussion away from data set discussions and towards the life-blood of negotiation – the giving and obtaining of concessions
  • Consider using negotiation jujitsu to learn the interest behind the positions
  • If you find yourself in a Data set trap go to deadlock immediately. Walk away and get another offer. Restart the negotiation based on the new anchor and forget the entire previous session.



Learn to use your Market Value Report and how avoid the data set trap.

You’ll have a better outcome and avoid a major obstacle in the way to getting your best offer.



Physicians are expected to negotiate at an expert level  with almost no formal training. Be sure to check out and our educational products. We help doctors obtain their best physician contracts. We may be the missing piece that you need to truly succeed.

Also be sure to check out the rest of our blog



So, what do you think? Are you going to use the data set no matter what advice we give you? Have you ever fallen into a data set trap? Do you feel comfortable getting out or avoiding a data set trap? Let is know your thoughts in the comment section.


1 Comment


I see this all the time. Have any of your ever dealt with this?


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