Preparation Checklist

The Preparation Checklist is the most powerful tool in the toolbox to prepare for negotiations and crucial conversations. 

If you are negotiating an important contract, new job offer, or annual raise, you need to invest 1-10 hours going through the preparation checklist.

You can make a copy of the Preparation Checklist Google Doc Template and use this tool to prepare for your next negotiation.

Defining your alternatives/highest goal/walkaway (#4) before the meeting is vital to logical decide where your boundaries are before you get into the meeting and become emotional. 

When you think you are ready, review it with a trusted colleague who can play devil’s advocate to practice your strategy (#7) and scripting (#8). 

Preparation Checklist

Info Gathering

1) Situation Summary – Identify objectives and goals – Who/What/When/Why – Write it down

2) Precedents – Power of the past – Cite/quote people outside the room – Deal comparable(s)

3) Interests – What do they really want (beyond what they say) – Non-cash value may define interest – Ex. quick service, security, experience, recognition, halo effect, etc. – Use effective probing questions to uncover their interests – be honest with yourself about your interests

4) Alternatives/Highest Goal/Walkaway – Knowing their alternatives gives you leverage – Power of options – ideal outcome? – Must ask to receive – How much willing to give up? – Walkaway point is finite and decided before meeting to protect emotions that arise in the room

5) Strengths/Weaknesses – Assess the other side analytically not emotionally – Protect your weaknesses – Probe their weaknesses – Probe their interests – Create deal supported by improving strengths

6) Team – Co-negotiators, advisors, info sources, good/bad cop, devil’s advocate, practice, role play – Assess the other team – LinkedIn, resume, experience – Decision-makers – Process to make decision – Key stakeholders – Review their org chart – How do they operate? – Who writes the check to you?

Action Planning

7) Strategy – Write down a list of questions – Make advance decisions – How much probing? – Control? – Lead from strength? – Start high or low? – How many face-to-face meetings? Phone calls? Emails? Zoom meetings? Depends on your needs, goals, and tone – Depends on their style, timing, and egos – Gain most – Plan concessions in advance – Where will you give in? – Where will you stand firm?

8) Scripting – Write a proposal in advance – Test, state, retest, perfect path – Review with devil’s advocate – After exchanges, add updates to the preparation checklist – Write your script below…

You can make a copy of the Preparation Checklist Google Doc Template and use this tool to prepare for your next negotiation.

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