You could not build a great home or building without laying the foundation and the same is true for pre-negotiating in your negotiations. It lays the foundation for great results.






Today we are going to talk about the importance of Pre-Negotiating. In fact just saying that is an understatement, it isn’t important it is critical and foundational.

You could not build a great home or building without laying the foundation and the same is true for pre-negotiating in your negotiations. It lays the foundation for great results.

Have you ever walked out of a meeting totally frustrated that you didn’t come away with what you wanted?

Of course you have, we all have and 9 times out of 10 it is due to the fact we did not do the work needed going in to the negotiation.

So first thing you need to understand is that Negotiations are won or lost well before you get in to the meeting. In fact when done right the actual employee review is a mere formality, you are just going in to collect on what has already been negotiated.

All too often employees come in with no pre-work done and leave themselves and their employers in a tough spot because they are not able to deliver on the returns that you want.

And when this happens I am going to give it to you straight, that is on you!

Your returns at work are all on you and you need to learn how to negotiate better. The great news is it really isn’t hard in fact most of you have been doing it since you were a kid, you just didn’t take those skills with you to work.

Think back to birthday’s, holidays or Christmas. How did you get what you wanted from mom and dad or Santa? Yes you gave them a list way ahead of the date. If you are like I was that list was going out in early fall.

Pre-negotiating months or even a year before is the key to huge returns. 

You set the stage for success by getting on the same page with your employer. So they know what you value and the returns you are looking for. Your employer needs time to come up with the returns you want so if you wait and spring it on him/her at review time there is nothing they can do.  

This is like asking for a new bike on Christmas Eve after all the stores have closed. As much as your parents or Santa would love to deliver they can’t.

Your raise, promotion, or other returns are already baked in to the budget so your employer is stuck. What they brought in to the meeting is what you are walking out with, the best you can hope for is a hollow, “let me see what I can do,” response.

One major mistake people make in negotiations is coming in and asking for their return AFTER they have already delivered. Not that you can’t try and leverage your past work for a return. It just doesn’t give you the power to negotiate. After all, if you have already done something for them or the company, it would be easy for them to say no. It’s unlikely you can take back that work.

Being clear in what you want and communicating that with your employer before you dedicate any time or effort into that task will set you up for success and set you up to get the return you’re asking for. 

When you are negotiating big things like promotions, large raises, etc. you need time to earn it and more importantly you need time for your employer to get approval and budget for it. 

You start the process now for big returns months from now. You set the stage for what you expect and work with your employer on getting agreement to this simple exchange. If I deliver on X you will reward me with Y.

This gives you and the employer time for true negotiating; some back and forth on what you both want. Your employer may come back with the need for you to deliver X+ to really get Y and that is great! You now know what you need to do to get the reward you want.

One more tip: when ever you negotiate anything always document it. I have found the fastest and easiest way is to send a summary email following the conversation. Do it that day so you have the agreement and date documented through email. If you feel it is really important you can get it in writing. My personal experience is email works fine. True it may not be as legally binding, but think about it. Do you really want to work somewhere that unless it is a contract they don’t honor it? I wouldn’t. 

Once you get agreement, get it in writing. If it can be part of your review that is best. You and your employer can have it in writing and even include signatures. You should at least get it in email. ANYTIMEyou negotiate something with your employer that is important to you, always send a summary email that spells out the agreement and welcomes any response to clarify if you are not summarizing it correctly.

This will save you huge misunderstandings with employers and co-workers. Any time you negotiate or come to an agreement that is important take 5 minutes to document it in an email and ask for them to respond if they see it differently. While negotiations usually aren’t contractual, they can be documented in a way that gives you the upper hand when you deliver what you agreed upon.

PRO TIP: When dealing with employers or employees that drop the ball – or worse – are political,always document critical conversations through email. Create a summary of the conversation, agreements, etc. and send to them and ask for any clarification or feedback. 

  • Always make these positive, especially when dealing with hard employers or employees.
  • Make sure you capture the key details you want to hold them accountable to.
  • Ask for clarification if they see things differently


Dear John, 

It was a pleasure meeting with you today for my annual review. It is fun to see the growth the company and I have had the past year. Per our conversation I am excited to deliver X for the business and appreciate the opportunity to get Y when I deliver. My understanding is if I can deliver X by June that the company will give me Y at my semi-annual review. 

This is exciting and I am going to be laser focused on hitting this goal before June. If there is anything that I missed of importance in this summary let me know. I am excited for this opportunity and look forward to crushing it. 



Dear Mike, 

Thank you for taking the time to meet today to discuss lead flow. I appreciate our candid conversation and feel like we made great progress in working together more efficiently. To summarize we agreed that the current lead flow is not what it should be, the target we both agreed to is 10 leads a week that you will provide and with that flow I am expected to close 1 deal or 10%. 

Lead flow is such an important part of my success and I appreciate your willingness and desire to get to 10 per week by the end of the month. Let me know if I missed anything in my summary. 


We will all have to deal with flaky bosses, or worse, political co-workers that try and submarine you. Simple documentation through email is the fix to these problems. It gets everything out there and allows them time to rebut your view.

I can not count how many times this has saved me from misunderstanding and political employees that try to move up the ranks by throwing people under the bus. Having a letter/email that captures the agreement will help you get on the same page with them, force them to either tweak what they said or fully divulge what they really mean in your meeting. Or, it will provide you the proof you’ll need that they have backed out of what they agreed to do.

I also use this to manage my employees. They are like mini contracts. No one signs anything but the negotiated terms are stated and documented for all to see and easy retrieval.

Inevitably someone will say, I never agreed to that! At which time you can pull up the email and read verbatim what was agreed to. If they did not respond you also have the request in the email “if there is anything I did not capture correctly or needs to be clarified let me know”. They had there chance to make changes, no response is agreement.

Do you see the difference to how you are going to come in to the review vs. your co-worker that shows up and makes small talk with the employer, sheepishly asks for a few things and then takes what the employer was already authorized to give.


You are going to drive this process moving forward!


Over 95% of people work for the wrong compensations. This lesson will help you identify the returns you really want from your job so you can negotiate for the returns that matter.


When negotiating, you need to know what things are nice to haves but you’d possibly work without and what you must have or you’ll walk away from the job. You'll identify those in this lesson.


Remove risk (without going behind your boss' back) from your negotiations with offers elsewhere that will give you your must-haves. If your employers can't deliver, you're still set up to get those returns.


One of the most common rookie negotiating mistakes: asking for too much. When you know what you really want and focus on just one or two things, you'll exponentially increase your odds succeeding.


The first and most crucial part of negotiating is learning how to pre-negotiate. It lays the foundation for you to receive the biggest returns from work which is what you'll learn in this lesson.


Successful negotiations happen when you prove you can take the initiative. Do this in your work every day and in your reviews. Employers will reward you and even help you. Stand out. Drive your reviews.


You were hired to do a specific job. Before trying to go the extra mile - do what you were hired to do. This lesson will help you deliver on your KPI's and how to go the extra mile when the time is right.


Before your employer can give you what you want/deserve, you need to deliver on the KPI's you were hired to do. Give before you get.  Learn to avoid mistakes to ensure you’re properly recognized..


Like chess, each of these lessons is like a chess piece that provides you the ability to put a strategy together. Now that you have learned how the pieces move, you're ready to put a strategy in place.

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