BATNA Basics: Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table

Learn How to Boost Your Bargaining Power

I finally accepted the fact that my life is one endless series of negotiations.

It starts in the morning with my alarm clock – which, unfortunately, always wins – followed by my teenage daughter’s clothing choices and my spouse’s desired selections for my heart-healthy breakfast. (Did I mention that they always win, too?) Then it’s time to navigate the morning commute as I jockey my way through the tolls, traffic, and parking garage to get to my office in time for my “official” negotiations – with suppliers, customers, and co-workers. You would think I’d be primed and ready to go, but regrettably, that’s far from the truth.

Since the success of my job as Director of Purchasing depends upon effective bargaining, I realized that I needed more than years of experience and common sense in my arsenal. I was looking for new perspectives and proven strategies. So I approached my boss. He supported my request for formal training, asked me to investigate options with Human Resources – and then he decided to join me, as well. (Perhaps he was concerned I would have a leg up on our salary negotiations?)

We learned that the best negotiators get to “yes” by being clear about what their alternatives are if they don’t get a deal. More specifically, they:

  • Determine the best alternative to a negotiated agreement if negotiations fail
  • Understand that the BATNA of a negotiator may differ from that of his organization
  • Track the fluctuating positions of multiple parties involved in a negotiation
  • Are not overly influenced by the sunk costs of a negotiation

Even more important than the strategies and tactics we learned, we both gained from the confidence to know which deals to engage in and those from which to back away. And guess what? This saves us precious time and money, every single day.

Dear Professional:

No matter your function, improved bargaining skills will strengthen your performance and company’s profitability. At the Program on Negotiation (PON) at Harvard Law School, we help professionals negotiate successfully in today’s globally competitive economy. Our popular special report – BATNA Basics: Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table – explains the key concepts of BATNA, your “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.”

Get your copy today and learn the four critical steps:

  • Listing alternatives
  • Evaluating options
  • Establishing the course you should pursue if the negotiation fails
  • Calculating your reservation value – the lowest value deal you are willing to accept

In essence, knowing your BATNA gives you the confidence to walk away from a subpar deal and to accept a deal that is better than your best alternative.

In this management report, you’ll get actionable advice including excerpts from the influential book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. While many professionals instinctively think about their BATNA as they prepare for a negotiation, this practical guide gives you structured advice for gaining a critical advantage in upcoming deals.

Rather than assuming that the deal on the table matches your BATNA point-by-point, translate your BATNA to fully understand its implications for the negotiation at hand

To shape your strategy, think through the other party’s BATNA as carefully and objectively as you do your own

Incorporate the likely BATNA of the individual with whom you are negotiating, as well as the BATNA of his/her company

And since negotiations often include more than two parties, the report also gives you tools to handle more complex situations and keep abreast of multiple shifting BATNAs.

The bargaining strategies you’ll learn will ensure that you maintain good relationships with the people sitting across the negotiating table from you. For, in the end, that’s the goal of a true win-win.


Gail Odeneal
Director of Marketing
Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

P.S. Curated from several articles, this report contains the most important, most relevant information you need to negotiate the best outcomes for you and your company. Download your complimentary copy now.

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