How to Conduct a Pre-Negotiation Meeting

You will find countless tips and articles that offer advice for how to succeed and avoid missteps at the bargaining table. However, some of the costliest mistakes and most important conversations actually happen before the negotiation begins. While it’s great to have leverage and negotiation experience, planning is equally important when it comes to striking a deal. Poor planning can result in lost money, the other party taking more concessions than you planned, or even an inability to reach an agreement. The more time and preparedness you have before entering a negotiation, the better your final outcome will be. That’s why it is important to conduct a pre-negotiation meeting prior to sitting down at the bargaining table.

What is a Pre-Negotiation Meeting?

Pre-negotiation is the stage in the negotiation process that happens before the actual discussion takes place. It is often overlooked, but it is highly beneficial for both parties so they can determine the best course of action. During a pre-negotiation meeting, both parties discuss how and where the negotiations will take place. They will also define the problems that need to be solved and gather information to begin preparing for the negotiation.

What Must Take Place in a Pre-Negotiation Meeting?

Assess the Situation

Every negotiation is different and you will be negotiating with people who have different styles, goals, and objectives. Remember that people are coming from different circumstances and will value different things to always get to know the other party and their reasons for negotiating. 

Gather Information

Hopefully, you have already conducted some basic research regarding the company and the person you will be negotiating with, but this is your chance to gather even more intel that can help you develop a winning strategy. Ask open-ended questions so you can learn more about what is most important to the other party. What problem(s) are they facing? What are their goals and objectives? What are their pain points? What is motivating them to negotiate? How quickly are they looking to solve the problem? The more you can find out about the other party, the better you will be able to formulate a strategy that will appeal to them.

Consider Any Conflicts That Might Arise

Conflicts are bound to arise in any negotiation and a pre-negotiation meeting is a great opportunity to learn about any differences you might experience at the negotiating table. For example, you may experience conflicting opinions, beliefs, views, or ideologies. By analyzing beforehand what types of conflict might arise, you can frame your negotiation strategies more effectively. 


At the conclusion of the pre-negotiation meeting, you should have all the necessary information needed to prepare and develop an effective strategy. The information gathered at the meeting can help you develop a plan that will address concerns, respect the needs of the other party, and reach your target goals.