The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader’s Review

by John D. Baker

The Point Of The Deal: How To Negotiate When Yes Is Not Enough

By Danny Ertel and Mark Gordon
240pp Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007.
Soft cover Edition, $26.95

The focus of this book is clear from the very beginning. Ertel and Gordon tell us their fundamental premises in the introduction of their book and repeat them throughout their work. Essentially, the authors present two basic contentions:

“There is no point to negotiation ‘victories’ that can not be implemented” (page 3).

“There is a fundamental difference between ‘doing deals’ and negotiating for implementation” (page 3).

Unquestionably, they are correct. What follows in their work is a fascinating and valuable look at negotiation within the corporate framework.

Here’s the book you have been waiting for if you are negotiating on behalf of a company, hold a position as an officer or shareholder of such an entity; or are a member of another corporation with a current or future negotiating interest in such a company. You will be hard-pressed to find a better resource on the corporate negotiation process. Its authors, Danny Ertel and Mark Gordon, both founders of Vantage Partners, know the corporate deal-making process and analyze its strengths and weaknesses through a host of examples of real and insightful negotiation situations. The Point of the Deal is an extraordinary contribution to the field of negotiation. It has my highest recommendation.

Anyone who has negotiated for a large corporation will recognize that the authors have captured the unique challenges of the corporate setting together with the exponential expansion of the complexity of those challenges when the representatives of two or more of these legal creations sit down at the bargaining table. Their fundamental point, of course, is one of wise use of resources in which “deals” are not only worthless if they can not be implemented, but also foolishly diversionary from real solutions that could have been created with similar investments of resources and might have positively impacted the bottom lines of each of the negotiating participants.

What you will find is a careful cataloging of why negotiators deliberately deceive their negotiating opponents about the risks inherent in the future implementation of an agreement by their own organization or accede without important challenge to uncertain and unexplored implementation risks of their partner or the outside environment. Lest the deal go down, the negotiator may think, but not articulate the old implementer’s remedy for all insolvable matters: “The key step in the implementation process will be posted on the plan in a box that states: “And then, a miracle occurs.”

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September 2007