In attempting to sweeten an acceptable job offer, the best approach is to play upon the ego and power of your new manager. Not in a negative way, but giving him a chance to "show his strength" within the company. You need to realize that you are in one of the strongest political positions you may ever be in with your new employer. Utilizing this technique can have the side effect of enhancing your future power within the organization—if used correctly.
Accepting the offer does not necessarily relinquish your ability to negotiate.
The key to using this technique is to empower your new manager. You give him power in two ways: (1) by accepting (yes, I said "accepting") the position, you give him power because he has added the desired person to his team; and (2) by asking him for his assistance in meeting your further needs, you give him an opportunity to show his power within the organization. How to do this? Consider the following example:
"_____ (name of boss), I'm calling you with some very good news. I would like to accept your offer and I'm looking forward to working with you and becoming a valuable member of the team. (Wait for their positive response.) I am committed to working with you, and as my future boss there is (are) a (two, three, some) minor issue(s) about the offer that I want to make you aware of. I don't know if you're able to make changes in this (these) area(s), but I'd surely appreciate your looking into that possibility. Namely, would it be possible to _____ (name changes)?"
The beauty of this technique is that it provides two things. First, it locks in your acceptance of the job and takes that acceptance out of the negotiating. Second, it leaves open additional concessions that may be given to you at no cost. Please note that most books and articles on negotiating would argue against "giving away" your greatest negotiating chip—acceptance of the position. But this argument is correct only if you can afford to lose this chip. If that's the case and you truly want to "spin the wheel," you can use the information under the Unacceptable Offer Negotiation Technique outlined above. Yet you risk losing the job offer entirely if you choose that approach. By closing out the offer acceptance portion, you have locked down the one thing you cannot afford to lose, yet you leave open other areas. Your retained negotiating chip? The hoped "show of power" on the part of your future boss. Even if your boss is not able to deliver, the fact that you "turned over" your personal request to your boss will make him or her more willing to help you in any future needs. Even if all you get is exactly what was originally offered, you are given by default a future negotiating chip.
Why does this technique work? Simple. It's a win/win situation. The key to successful negotiation is that each side should stand to benefit. In this example, the worst case scenario is that you will have the new job you want and the company will have the new employee it wants. The best case scenario is that your new boss will feel personally and professionally satisfied because of his or her ability to immediately enhance your new position by meeting your additional requests. Even if your boss is not able to provide any (or all) of the requested concessions, he or she will feel privileged that you brought him this issue to handle, and will then feel an obligation (due to guilt?) to help you in any future requests.
The greatest benefit of this negotiation technique is that it has zero risk (by securing the job offer acceptance), yet invariably persuades most managers to give in to some or all of the concession requests. Why? Plain and simple—ego. Your new manager wants to show that he or she has the power to make things happen. At this point, you are both on the same side, working for the same goal. Later in your career your eventual goals may conflict with your manager's, but at this time, if you can convince your manager of the value of your request, you will have a strong advocate on your side.
So if there are areas of the offer you are seeking to "redefine," this is a safe, effective way to test the waters. The risk is minimal, while the payback can be significant. It should be noted that this technique cannot be used for significant offer changes. If you need to make changes of great magnitude, you will probably have to follow through with the Unacceptable Offer Negotiation.
Good luck! If you successfully applied these negotiation strategies, you likely just paid for this book—possibly many times (even several hundred times?) over. So why not use your newfound wealth to buy several more copies of this book to give to all your starving and unemployed college friends who have not found a job yet? Or at least pass on your copy to a friend in need.