Why Every Negotiator Should Have A “Deal Book”

In order to get what you want out of your next negotiation, you're going to have to have a deal book
In order to get what you want out of your next negotiation, you’re going to have to have a deal book
Image Credit: Tony Hall

Let’s face it: negotiating is a complicated process even before you start thinking about all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are involved. There may a number of different people involved, you may be discussing many different issues, and don’t even get me started on all of the dates and places that can be involved. Needless to say, it can be very difficult for a single person to keep all of this straight before, during, and after a negotiation. That’s why we all need some help. That’s why we all need a “deal book”.

What Is A Deal Book?

So, if this deal book thing is so important, perhaps we should take a closer look at exactly what it is. One way to view a deal book is to think of it as being sort of a general ledger where you keep track of everything that has to do with a negotiation that will be happening in the future. Instead of a host of post-it notes, files on your laptop, or scribbled sheets of paper, instead everything having to do with the upcoming negotiation is always in one and only one place.

I’m sure that you are proud of just how many details about a given negotiation you are able to store in your head. However, I’m also willing to bet that you can’t keep it all up there. This is where the deal book comes in. You’re going to have to use your deal book to keep track of such things as who you’ve called in setting up the negotiation, who called you about the negotiation, what was agreed to, etc.

As you can start to see, the deal book is going to be a key tool in helping you get ready for your next negotiation. In fact, if you are going to be negotiating as a part of a team, your deal book is going to be a critical tool for everyone. This means that as you make updates to your deal book, you are going to have to get those updates transcribed and passed on to the rest of your team so that everyone is in the loop.

How Do You Use A Deal Book?

Having a deal book is a good first step; however, it’s how you choose to use your deal book that will provide you with an advantage over the other side of the table. Your deal book will help you to keep track of things as you prepare for the upcoming negotiation. You can use it to record on a day-by-day basis all of the people that you are talking with to schedule the negotiation, their telephone numbers, and any action items that you need to take care of before the negotiations start.

Many negotiators have very specific rules for what their deal books look like and how they are treated. The experienced ones tend to favor using a spiral bound notebook as opposed to a loose leaf notebook. Losing or misplacing your deal book would be a serious loss. In order to make sure that this never happens, most negotiators insist that it always occupy a specific place on their desk. This way when they need it, they never have to go looking for it.

Used correctly, your deal book will contain a complete list of what you’ve told the other side and what their response to you was. This can come in handy later in the negotiations. If during the negotiations they say something that contradicts what they’ve already told you, you’ll be able to look it up in your deal book and resolve the discrepancy.

What All Of This Means For You

We negotiators are always looking for a way to get better. It turns out that using what is called a “deal book” is how the professional negotiators keep everything straight during those long and involved negotiations that have so many different details associated with them. We need to start using deal books.

A deal book can physically be just about anything. The pros like to use spiral notebooks so that they can’t lose any pages. A deal book is used to keep track of all of the details that are needed in order to prepare for a principled negotiation . This includes calls made, calls received, telephone numbers, and who said what. All of this information can become critical during the negotiation if the other side says something that contradicts what they said before the negotiations started. You’ll have your notes and so you can get things straightened out if this happens.

You wouldn’t think that something as simple as a notebook could have such a big impact on how a negotiation turns out. However, it’s not just a notebook – it’s a deal book. Take the time to create your own deal book and use it as you prepare for your next negotiation. You just might be surprised at how much power it puts in your hands!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it is wise to let the other side know that you are using a deal book during a negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, negotiating can be a very tricky thing to do well what with all of the different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are used. There are a lot of different reasons why negotiating can be hard to do, but one of the biggest is that there are just so many different things that you have to keep track of. The really good negotiators have found a way to do this, perhaps we should start doing what they do…?