6 Steps to Prepare for a Critical Negotiation

Last Updated Mar 23, 2010 3:43 PM EDT

The best negotiators leave little to chance. So doing homework BEFORE you sit down at the negotiating table is essential.

I like Anthony Tjan's quick list for sizing up a negotiation.

  1. Understand the big picture price / value you are trying to achieve.
  2. Determine which of the negotiation points are quantifiable.
  3. Bound the low and high values of each point.
  4. Create scenarios for both "edge cases" which might be of concern and for "likely scenarios".
  5. Re-prioritize negotiation points.
  6. Aggregate quantifiable points to see how they compare to the big picture you are trying to achieve.
The most important item on the list? No. 1.
"In the course of a negotiation many people end up negotiating on a point-by-point basis and without remembering the real value of any given point in the context of the broader ultimate goal. Making efforts to quantify the spread in a deal makes the negotiation much easier and can even eliminate points of negotiation."
Read his full post for the gritty details. You'll feel much better entering your next negotiation.

Related Reading
Bruce Wasserstein: Dealmaking Tips From the Master (BNET)

Tips from the best dealmaker of his age.

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.