Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Developing a Strategic Negotiation Plan: Toyota Highlander

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Developing a Strategic Negotiation Plan: Toyota Highlander

Article excerpt


The primary subject matter of this case concerns the evaluation of gathered information to develop a negotiation plan prior to a consumer's purchase of a sport utility vehicle. Secondary issues examined include the sales process and the increasing role of the Internet in consumers' information search activities. The case has a difficulty level of one (appropriate for freshman level courses) although it may be used through level five (appropriate for first year graduate level) depending on the amount and complexity of background reading assigned. The case is designed to be taught in as little as one class hour, but may be expanded to as many as three class hours depending on the amount of theoretical material discussed by the instructor, if role-play negotiations are carried out, and whether any out-of-class preparations are assigned. The case is expected to require from zero to approximately four hours of outside preparation by students.


Introducing students to the topic of sales negotiation is always challenging. While it is typically a significant part of business-to-business purchases and many higher-ticket priced consumer goods, negative word-of-mouth and uncomfortable personal experiences leave many students apprehensive. Presenting the topic in the context of purchasing an automobile, or in this case study, negotiating the purchase of two sport utility vehicles, students will draw on their own experiences, those of their friends and family members, and any assigned readings. The overall goals of the case are to defuse the anxiety many students associate with negotiation, underscore the importance of analysis and planning prior to face-to-face encounters, and better prepare students for future business and personal purchase situations where negotiation is a factor. Specifically, in this case students examine collected price and non-price information, and develop a negotiation plan. Through this task the instructor may explore various fundamental aspects of negotiation (e.g., agenda analysis, concession strategies) and the distributive bargaining model (e.g., aspiration targets, reservation points, buyer and seller surplus).


Pre-class Readings and Student Preparation

If the instructor wants to minimize student preparation for the case, either as a prelude to "off the cuff discussions of negotiation experiences and impressions of car buying, or to better fit the goals for this case with other course objectives, no formal readings need be required to discuss this case. Due to the issues the case raises and its flexibility of use with different student populations, depending on how the case fits with the instructor's goals for the session, selected readings may be assigned. Relevant readings and brief descriptions listed by student level are presented in Exhibit 3.

As part of the learning process instructors may also find it useful to discuss the case in the larger context of different sales situations. To that end there are resources available that present student role plays involving sales and/or negotiations. The professional selling skills workbook (1995), edited by Avila et al. contains numerous tools that can be used for this purpose. Role playing the selling side of the Toyota Highlander negotiation can be beneficial to students accustomed to only viewing these types of interactions from the buyer's vantage point.

Exhibit 3

Suggested Readings

Level One (Freshmen)

The Only Four-Page Guide to Negotiating You'll Ever Need, by Walter Kiechel. Description : Everyone engages in negotiating all the time, whether they realize it or not. Preparation is critical to the success of the process. You will need to prepare on two fronts: getting the right attitude, and gathering information on what your interests are and what the other party's might be. Looking at the overlapping interests of both parties is important; pay special attention to possible alternatives to negotiation. …

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