Since the series THE APPRENTICE we all know him as  “George”, Donald Trump’s rights hand man. Ever since Trump wrote “The Art of the Deal,” he has been the world’s most famous negotiator – even though he didn’t reveal his deal-making secrets.

In Trump-Style Negotiation, George Ross explains the tactics that took Trump to the top and how anyone can use those same tactics and strategies to get ahead in business. This is not a book of stories about negotiations. It is an actual, practical hands-on book to use every day – at work and/or in your personal live. Based on years of experience and true business wisdom, this is the ultimate book for anyone who wants to negotiate like a proven winner.

About one and a half year ago, I stumbled on this book in which George H. Ross takes the reader along several aspects of negotiation. This post documents some of the highlights I shared with my colleagues after reading this book. I am now sharing these with you.

George lays out some of his strategies behind several critical negotiations for Trump and other real estate moguls:

  • Build trust, friendship and satisfaction with the other side.
  • Discover what the other side wants, determine their weaknesses and uncover valuable information.
  • Convince the other side that they are getting more than they expected.
  • Use pace, timing, deadlines, deadlocks, and delays to your advantage.
  • Employ psychological negotiation tactics.
  • Become an expert on the topic you are negotiating or ensure you have expert knowledge available and at hand. (hmm, that reminds me of Seth Godin more recently).
  • Be flexible and consider multiple solutions to every impasse.
  • Use planning and information management tools to help you get the best results.

Six Important Negotiation and Deal-making Techniques
George H. Ross Summarizes his book by providing the following six most important deal-making and negotiating techniques:

  1. Keep exceptional records.
    This keeps coming back throughout the book and he clarifies his method of keeping what he calls a “dealbook” this will be outlined later in this file note. The side best prepared is the side that will usually get the best results. Taking extensive notes is part of that process and serves as a safety net as well. Where you are able to refer back to specific discussions on a specific date and time you will have a very compelling argument.
  2. Develop your own forms and create an aura of legitimacy.
    The side that prepares the documents decides what goes in and what stays out. The aura often seems to flow just from the mere existence the document itself. It implicitly says things as “business as usual”, “we always do it this way and if it is good enough for others why not for you?” In addition to this the other side will have the onus of finding out what is not in there and because your provided the documents it makes it harder for the other party to change the deal. Documents –> Control.
  3. If you can use company policy as a negotiation tool.
    The simple presentation of the argument “that’s our company policy” will very often put an end to any arguments. This argument is rarely probed to find out whether or such a policy actually exists and if any what flexibility there is in this policy.
  4. Be willing to take calculated risks.
    The emphasis in this is on ‘calculated’. Calculated risks may be taken at times since you play to win. When you take such risks however you should be willing to live with the potential consequences. The one that is prepared to take such calculated risks is usually the advantaged party.
  5. Use time as the ultimate negotiation weapon.
    Make sure that you control the delays, deadlines and deadlocks and where you are aware of the deadlines of others, you can use them to your advantage. Avoid at all times that the other side uses time against you.
  6. Make and use general commitments to gain concessions.
    Commitments of a general nature such as “I will see this through till we reach some agreement’ create a moral commitment not to walk away. You should expect reciprocity.

Discipline Rules: Prepare, Plan and Document
There is a human tendency to enter negotiations without a detailed plan or strategy for getting what you want. The more prepared you enter into negotiations the better your chances of getting a good result. The more info you have about the people on the other side the greater your advantage throughout the negotiations. A game plan is vital and makes you prepared for not just knowing where you want to go but also to prepare you for potential contingencies along the road. The process shows some similarities to what was outlined in a previous post on interviewing scammers.

Questions that need answers in advance are amongst others:

  • What do you plan to say?
  • How do you plan to react to what the other side may say?
  • What if the talks come to a standstill?
  • What concessions are you willing to make?
  • What do you expect from the other side?
  • Who will you be negotiating with and what motivates them?

Two key power tools are preparation and organization.

How to Prepare

Know Who You Are Dealing With (WHOIS+): Due Diligence
The first important step is knowing who your adversaries are:

  • What are their backgrounds?
  • Do they have a track record and what is that telling you?
  • Has anyone you know dealt with them before?
  • Reputation?

Use available sources internet, business directories, associations and third parties and other available sources to obtain information and use this to your advantage. Also during the negotiations make note of new information. At all times keep asking probing questions to find out as much as you can about the other party. Make sure you have a good set of documentation in relation to the deal you are trying to make and have it with you on meetings and readily available in other communications such as phone calls and conferences.

Printed Documents create an aura of legitimacy.
When you go into a meeting take everything you may need in terms of documents along, so you can refer back to them.

Your most powerful tool; a Deal Book
George Ross basically distinguishes between a “general ledger” or “journal” and you use it to record all things that happen during your day. It is important that it is associated with a filing system because that way you can ensure that vital information is preserved and retrieved easily and readily.

George Ross makes a compelling case for keeping deal book: a checklist and organizer in one. The deal book, contrary to the normal journal is dedicated to one specific deal and in that sense more of a case specific journal, case and information management system. Keeping such a deal book takes a lot of time, thought and effort but it gets easier and easier once adopted as a habit and it enables you to keep detailed oversight where deals are longer running processes. Besides that it enables you to delegate negotiations and ensures that the party taking over is completely informed.

Things to record in the deal book:

  • Checklist of negotiation points (or things to cover during the project)
  • What has been agreed upon
  • What is still open for discussion
  • Claims and promises made by the other party and yourself
  • A We-They List: a side by side listing of the points under negotiation or coming up for negotiation with the position of the parties such as price, timeframe to close the deal/deadlines, compromises
  • A wish list: a summary of what you want to get out of it and a prioritization of these wishes, so where required you can give in on some minors to win the important ones
  • A POST document: post stands for Persons, Objectives, Strategies, Tactics. Before you enter the arena you should have this completed for each meeting.


  • Role or level of authority
  • Background information on the person


  • What is the objective or purpose of the meeting?
  • Define it in a measurable objective!


  • How to appear, demeanor, point of view (excitement, boredom, enthusiasm)
  • Good Cop / Bad Cop
  • Note Taker along? 


  • Allocation of roles and responsibilities on your team and who will be responsible for the implementation of which strategy.
  • Reviews of every meeting or phone/skype call. Document what went on during the meeting, what was discussed, agreed upon, not agreed upon, newly introduced facts, changed positions, and everything else that was important.
  • Was the objective achieved and if not why not?
  • What went well and what went not well?
  • Do any of my assumptions need revision?
  • How should I schedule and time the next meeting?
  • What should happen with my notes?

It is an appropriate tactic and/or technique to provide the other party a summary and status of the negotiations in longer running projects. By providing this you keep the control of what goes in and what stays out. Most often the other side just takes these for granted an never reads them anyway but it provides you the stronger argument when the other party tries to change position at a later stage. By documenting the progress to a certain point it has a tendency to become fact and makes it very difficult for the other party to disagree on these points later in the negotiations. You do not need to do this after each meeting, you can use this approach at certain milestones.

Documents Rule
It is strongly recommended that you prepare yourself also by having an appropriate level of documentation available. Depending on the nature of the project this could entail:

  • NDA
  • Business plan/ proposal including “standard agreement” (for instance “standard” joint venture agreement or “standard” agency agreement or partnership agreement)
  • Supplementary documents (research reports, financial documentation, legal opinions, letters of recommendation or references and appraisals)

You may not necessarily use them but you come across as prepared and when you need them you have them.

All I can say is that the book is a definite recommend for those that want to devlop or brush up their negotiation skills. It has helped me tremendously in my own work in the last year and a half; in negotiating contracts, in fraud interviews (especially extended ones that were performed over more than one session), in negotiating settlements or other out of court solutions for my clients. My suggestion is that yoiu buy the book and keep it close by.

There is something in there for everyone. Life is all about negotiations so make sure you get as good at it as you can. This book will most certainly contribute to that.

The book can be ordered here

And if you don’t believe me, perhaps have a preview through Google Books here >>>

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