Getting the Deal Done

Become a master dealmaker

Dear Business Professional,

Simon’s story says a lot how to get deals done. Here’s how he tells it:

For nearly a decade, I’ve been an acquisitions editor at one of the largest book publishers in the Northeast. It’s my job to skim through reams of manuscripts to identify those that might be commercially viable—and then negotiate with the authors to strike a deal.

After being on a hot streak of several successful deals, I stumbled upon a memoir from a young woman named Rose. The writing was raw and unpolished, but the story was unforgettable. Unlike many of the authors we publish, Rose wasn’t represented by a literary agent, so I contacted her directly.

After leaving Rose a series of voicemails, I finally got in touch with her. In our conversation, she expressed second thoughts about publishing the memoir at all. I said that I understood her concerns, but was still interested in discussing a deal. With her cautious agreement, I booked a flight to her hometown for a face-to-face meeting.

I came prepared with information about my company, tentative dollar figures for advances and royalties, and my classic dealmaking charm. But everything I said fell on deaf ears. Rose was harder to negotiate with than a seasoned literary agent. Finally, I called it a day and said I would take her to coffee in the morning.

Back in my hotel room I decided to search for advice on the Internet. I know how to strike a deal, but I figured even an old dog like me could learn a new trick or two. One of the first results to pop up was Getting the Deal Done, a free special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

It was free to download, so I gave it a try. After reading only a few pages, I was thankful that I did. I thought I had been “actively listening” to Rose by nodding my head and saying that I understood her concerns. But in reality, I wasn’t at all. In the report, I learned the three keys to active listening:

  • Paraphrase—Restating what your counterpart says—without expressing agreement—helps reflect back the speaker’s key points as accurately as possible. By doing so, you help clarify the message and convey you understand her point of view.
  • Inquire—Active listeners ask open-ended questions to challenge their counterpart to unveil the reasoning behind her positions, demands, and conclusions.
  • Acknowledge—Listen for the feelings underlying your counterpart’s message and then reflect them back to convey you understand. Beyond paraphrasing, you must acknowledge what she is not saying. By bringing negative feelings such as anger and frustration into the light, you can steer the conversation toward reasonable problem solving.

As I read the free report, I could see the mistakes I had made in crystal clarity. I went to bed confident that tomorrow’s negotiation would be more fruitful.

At the coffee shop the next day, I took an entirely different tack with Rose. By actively listening I was able to understand her concerns at a deeper level. I asked her open-ended questions and really listened to her answers.

What I discovered was that it wasn’t about the royalties or the advance. It was about how to publish the book while protecting her privacy. We decided that we would publish the book with a pseudonym. Although I wasn’t sure the marketing team would love the deal, I agreed that any interviews with press could be done over the phone and with her voice disguised.

At the end of the three-hour meeting, we shook hands and I walked away with the signed deal. I can honestly say it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read Getting the Deal Done.

Simon’s success story is one we’ve heard time and again at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

Negotiation is one of the most complex yet important skills to learn. Even individuals who are “born negotiators” need to practice and acquire new strategies to get some deals done.

In Getting the Deal Done, you’ll discover bargaining strategies that have been used by many of the world’s most successful leaders. Within the pages of this free report, you’ll learn how to:

How to Make a Deal Against All Odds

Even the most skilled negotiators encounter seemingly insurmountable barriers when trying to make a deal. In Getting the Deal Done, you’ll learn how to diagnose the key barriers to an agreement and then devise the most promising ways to overcome them.

Find out how to tackle obstacles with a revolutionary method called “3-D Negotiation.” Pioneered by negotiation gurus James K. Sebenius and David Lax, 3-D Negotiation breaks down negotiation into three components:

  • First dimension—Tactics and interpersonal interactions “at the table”
  • Second dimension—Deal design or the art and science of crafting arrangements that unlock value for all parties
  • Third dimension—Setup “away from the table” in which the right people are lined up in the right sequence to address the right issues at the right time

When it comes to overcoming barriers to making a deal, you can utilize 3-D Negotiation by asking yourself three questions that correspond to the three dimensions:

  1. Are the barriers to agreement tactical and/or interpersonal?
    When you see strong potential for a mutually beneficial deal, but you’re getting stuck, interpersonal or tactical barriers—like poor communication or cross-cultural clashes—may be holding you back.
  2. Do the barriers result from poor deal design?
    A barrier can arise when one or both sides are dissatisfied with the agreement on the table. So ask yourself: Is there a way to create more value for all parties?
  3. Do the barriers result from a flawed setup?
    A flawed setup can indicate problems with the negotiation’s scope, sequence, or process choices. For example, scope flaws could mean you’re dealing with the wrong parties, interests, or issues.

How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy

Thorough preparation is the key to successful bargaining. But did you know that egocentrism—or the tendency to have an overly positive view of your abilities—can stand in your way?

In this free special report, you’ll discover how to stay grounded and negotiate with the best. Specifically, you’ll learn more about three important guidelines:

  1. Consider the opposite. Don’t assume you’ll maintain your poise when a negotiation gets tough. Instead consider your strengths and your weaknesses, and create an effective action plan.
  2. Remove your opponent’s personality from the equation. Consider your counterpart’s sources of power but don’t give too much weight to your assessment of their personality. That’s because our expectations are often based on stereotypes—and are dead wrong.
  3. Align your behavior with your forecasts. Be wary of overestimating your power at the bargaining table. Instead look for ways to improve your bargaining power by generating better alternatives or highlighting your expertise.

How to Make Something out of Nothing

Have you ever been in a negotiation where you just don’t have much to give? Even when resources are scarce, you can negotiate an agreement by using the tactics in Getting the Deal Done. Consider these quick tips:

  1. Adjust expectations—Try to adjust your counterpart’s expectations before talks begin by explaining any limits and obstacles.
  2. Use persuasion tools—Dole out concessions, rewards, and good news in stages rather than all at once. By contrast, deliver burdens, costs, and bad news in one big chunk.
  3. Apologize when appropriate—If you have little to give or burdens to impose, accompany bad news with a heartfelt apology.

How to Close the Deal for Good

You’re this close to closing the deal…but you still don’t have an agreement. In Getting the Deal Done, you’ll learn how to seal the deal for good with these rules of thumb:

  1. Diagnose the barrier—Whether it’s strategic behavior or psychological factors, take a hard look at what’s holding you back.
  2. Use the clock—Impose a deadline at the outset of a negotiation to avoid getting bogged down in never-ending talks.
  3. Count your change—To avoid dirty tricks, confirm that all key provisions have been covered so there will be no surprises.

If you’ve ever been stuck in a difficult negotiation, you simply must read Getting the Deal Done. Curated from several articles, this report contains the insights you need to improve your negotiating skills.

Do you want to close more deals? Achieve greater success at the bargaining table? And be the hero of your company? Download your complimentary copy of Getting the Deal Done for the extra edge you need to succeed.

I know you’ll be glad you did.


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

P.S. Are you ready to become a better negotiator? Enhance your dealmaking skills today by downloading your free copy of Getting the Deal Done.

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