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Brain circuits

Questions to ask as you prepare to negotiate a deal

Published 21 March 2022 in Brain circuits • 2 min read

Corporate deal making can be a cutthroat operation – but it also requires diplomacy and finesse, so it’s critical to assemble the right team to get the job done. The team that works like a well-oiled machine in the office on regular business may not be the team you want to make the best deal for your company. You need to look for people who have specific strengths that complement each other.

Here are four questions to ask as you assemble your negotiating team.

Do you have a quiet interpreter?

Do you have someone who is gifted at reading and decoding signals from non-verbal communication? They will play a valuable role in reading the temperature of the room, and advising where the other parties may seem vulnerable, or if your team is pushing too hard.

As a leader, view your negotiations as a team sport and you are the coach. Decide who is best equipped to handle specific aspects of the negotiation, and allocate tasks accordingly.

Have you resolved disagreements?

Sometimes even the best teams have diverging interests. Before you take your team to the negotiating table, you need to confront any issues that may be affecting the team to ensure you are united behind a common goal.

Have you thought about eliminating certain players?

You need people who can nurture relationships across stakeholder groups, which sometimes means excluding people who may be top performers in other areas. If someone has indicated they may not be able to successfully compromise in certain areas where flexibility is needed, you may want to bench them for the day.

Have you scheduled time to practice?

Just like in sports, corporate teams need to practice, ensuring high performance on game day. Role-playing the negotiation can help uncover issues that may arise and derail the process. For instance, people can become emotional and give away crucial information that weakens your bargaining position. Practicing ahead can help diffuse this.

Further Reading: 

Negotiation techniques for a global dealmaking frenzy by Salvatore Cantale and Sameh Abadir


Sameh Abadir

Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD

Sameh Abadir is Professor of Leadership and Negotiation at IMD. He advises companies on negotiations and runs negotiation workshops in English, French and Arabic. He has recently directed custom programs for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Jerónimo Martins, ArcelorMittal, and Merck, and he is Director of IMD’s Crisis Management online program. He was Co-Director of IMD’s signature program Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) and Co-Director of IMD’s Negotiating for Value Creation (NVC) open programs.

Salvatore Cantale - IMD Professor

Salvatore Cantale

Professor of Finance at IMD

Salvatore Cantale is Professor of Finance at IMD. His major research and consulting interests are in value creation, valuation, and the way in which corporations structure liabilities and choose financing options. Additionally, he is interested in the relation between finance and leadership, and in the leadership role of the finance function. He directs the Finance for Boards program and co-directs Driving Sustainability from the Boardroom.


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