After some initial thoughts and phone calls you drive to a meeting to negotiate a mayor business venture. The negotiation is important to you, but being busy with daily operations, you lacked the time to discuss the deal with your board members and advisors. Being busy themselves with other projects, you don’t see how your board members can add any value. And to be honest to yourself, your other advisors are mainly family members who don’t understand your business negotiations anyway. They are happy as long as you are not bothering them too much and the money keeps flowing in their lap to spend. It is your job to negotiate business and offer them a secure existence.
You park your car on the parking lot of a fancy business office park. When you step out of your vehicle looking at the blue sky, you wander what you want to get out of the meeting. You have got some ideas and vague numbers how you could integrate their services into your existing business. It would save you at least two years of development with lots of headaches how to upscale your current business. Being open to their point of view, you just want the hear what they bring to the table and perhaps you could end up in a contract negotiation.
When you present yourself at the reception, you notice that there are other business people waiting in the hall. First you think they are handling other affairs, but the receptionist tells you that you are the third in line to enter the boardroom. She apologizes that the meetings are running late and offers you a cup of coffee. You sink in a chair and overhear the people next to you playing with numbers about the same deal you are interested in. They seem to have their facts in order discussing negotiation strategies like professionals, which makes your heartbeat go up. You start getting nervous and bite your fingernails.
One group after the other is requested for their business meeting, but they don’t seem to leave the room. Perhaps there is another door to exit, but you are kept in the blind. Forty minutes after the supposed starting time of your meeting you may enter the boardroom. Your armpits soaking wet from sweat, you walk the hallway and enter the door. The room has a long oval table with thirty well-dressed businessmen all staring at you in silence. At this point you feel totally isolated and in need for some kind of negotiation skills. The person sitting at the end of the table introduces himself with a name you heard on your phone calls. “You have five minutes to clarify why we should sell our business to you?”
You stutter and are trying to get your act together. Boasting about the positive developments your company has achieved, you superficially touch on the future cooperation. Nobody seems to listen as you spot people whispering in each other’s ears. “Are they professional negotiators?” you wonder. After you presented a global picture and abstract road map going forward, somebody claps his hand on the table. “That something happened to you, doesn’t make it interesting for us. What is your deal?” You tremble and don’t find the right words to react properly.
“Well, if you are out of breath, we are going to tell you what’s on the table.” Some lawyer type grabs a report and throws it in your direction. “These are the terms and conditions. There is no room for contract negotiation.” When you look around you, you see that multiple reports have been handed to alternative candidates. You drop your head and want to escape the flawed situation. The bright blue sky did not survive the end of the morning. “You have got seventy-two hours to make up your mind.”
To be fair to your position, you were sitting opposite some very intimidating people. No time was wasted to relate to one and other. You even did not know who they were. If personal bonding is important to you, you should have walked out immediately. How could you have found out to know what they were after? In the exchange of information they seemed to have the upper hand in the business negotiation dictating a term sheet to you. But had they really the upper hand and was the deadline real or just an empty threat? How could you have set the stage differently?
For starters, you have to acknowledge that you were very ill-prepared, to put it mildly. To assume that the negotiations begin at the negotiating table is the biggest mistake people make in their lives. There is so much going on beforehand that you already lost a lot of ground, if you walk into the room with an empty premise. Know your business and especially the motives of your competitors. You could at least have been prepared for that. You were sitting opposite stakeholders that had their facts in order. They were well-advised and prepared a thoughtful written proposal, which included their demands, delivered to many interested candidates.
Getting yourself and your wants mirrored by a strategic negotiator is a sign of strength, no matter what anybody else is telling you. An outsider has no emotions attached to the matter and can give you an perspective that if you asked insiders would never be given to you. Insiders lack the straightforwardness due to the fact of the power structure and social proof. Most of the time people are hardwired to obey their boss and conform to the social culture within the company.
You could have gotten detailed numbers what the value of the takeover was worth to you compared with your own development costs in the coming two years. Next to that, what alternatives do your competitors have, if they lost the takeover and value that piece of information. How willing are the current shareholders of the company to sell their stake at which particular price? Have there been similar acquisitions in the recent history that give you a point of reference?
Strategic skilled negotiator session
Connecting the dots in a complex structure where the outcome is uncertain, is a task on its own. A skilled negotiator can help you setting up the right frame, so you are vigorously prepared to have enough ammunition when it matters. Negotiation strategies always differ case by case and should be personalized to your needs to be effective.
If I can help you in any way with your thought process, please book my strategic negotiator service. In my experience the difference in negotiation results can be huge. With the right approach your chances of a positive outcome alter tremendously, that benefits your life positively.Book now Business Negotiations session