United States: Time Is Money, Managing Time In A Negotiation Can Really Pay Off

In today's global marketplace, Ben Franklin's observation that "time is money" is as true now as ever. Companies (large and small) feel tremendous pressure to quickly line up and close deals – whether to bring in revenue, meet internal project deadlines, or to free up resources to tackle the next opportunity. Moving quickly can drive a deal forward, but speed has its price, and in many situations, slowing down may actually work to your benefit. Understanding and managing the impact of time on a negotiation can be a valuable tool. Here are some tips to make time work in your favor.

Slow Down to Create Leverage

Time, and the ability to control the pace of a negotiation, can be a powerful source of leverage in a negotiation. Customers and service providers alike can gain an advantage in a negotiation by understanding and leveraging the time pressures facing the other side. As year-end approaches, for example, many service providers are under increased pressure to get deals closed, which can give customers with time to space increased leverage to secure favorable pricing and terms. Likewise, vendors may have increased leverage in negotiations with customers who are in a pinch (perhaps due to a failing relationship with a current service provider) or are under internal pressure to hit a project deadline. If you perform a careful study of the time pressures facing the other side, you can speed up or slow down a negotiation to shift leverage to your side of the table, particularly in the later stages of a negotiation when the issues are often focused on key terms and deal fatigue may have set in.

Check Your Internal Time Pressures at the Door

Although it is important to understand the time pressures facing the folks across the table and their potential to create leverage, it is equally important to manage your own timing for your approach to the negotiations to avoid giving away your leverage or – worse yet – giving the other side a stronger position.

Consider the following: A large company and a software vendor were recently negotiating a license agreement. The large company had set internal deadlines for getting the deal done which were designed to reassure key stakeholders that the contract process would not get bogged down. Somewhere along the line, the company's business team shared its internal deadlines with the vendor. When the negotiation hit an impasse on several large issues, the vendor dug in and knowing the company was on the hook with its leadership to close the deal on schedule, and dragged out the process to use the company's own deadlines against it.

There are several lessons to learn here:

  1. Loose Lips Sink Ships. If you have an internal deadline associated with a deal (whether driven by a project plan for the business or a quarter or year-end closing deadline), keep your internal time constraints close to the vest. This may seem like obvious advice, but I have seen a lot of companies "overshare" their internal timing leading up to or during a negotiation, particularly during early-stage business discussions that precede the negotiations themselves. Many times, it comes back to bite them.
  2. A Blown Deadline Is Better Than A Blown Deal. The pressure to hit an internal deadline can be intense, but remember to put the deadline into perspective. If a business relationship goes south after a contract has been signed, nobody will remember (or care) that you hit the deadline; they will only be concerned with the terms you agreed to. The final stages of a negotiation often come down to several key provisions that are of particular significance to both parties – which makes it particularly important to look beyond the looming deadline and consider the long-term effect of a concession made to wrap up contract discussions quickly. One of my clients recently experienced this first hand: facing an impending launch date for a major initiative, the company needed to finalize a master agreement with an IT services provider that would be heavily involved in the project. Negotiations dragged on as the parties disagreed over a key provision allowing the client to terminate the contract if fees rose sharply. The vendor dug in and tried to use the launch date to force a concession, but the client opted to delay the project to get the terms it required. Several months later, when the vendor's fee estimates increased significantly, the client terminated the agreement. If it had conceded the point to close the deal and keep the project on schedule, the client would have saved a few weeks of project delay, but it would have paid a steep price for hitting its internal deadlines.
  3. Don't Delay the Hard Stuff. I often see parties to negotiations defer discussions about difficult provisions to the end of the negotiation in order to resolve the easier terms first and narrow the remaining items in dispute. Almost every time, however, the "easier" items take longer than expected to resolve, while the big-ticket issues get pushed off until time is running out. Facing pressure to close the deal, parties have a tendency to make bigger concessions on the most important parts of the agreement. Rather than letting time drive a rushed – and sometimes fatigued – negotiation of tough provisions, put them front and center at the start of discussions and work them during the full scope of discussions. By giving yourself the benefit of time, you may be able to identify creative compromises or opportunities to bridge the gap through other parts of the contract.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.