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Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

5 More Steps Towards Deal-Making Success

As I discussed in Episode #134, there are 10 steps I consistently promote for deal preparation and readiness. Combining these steps will lead you towards deal-making success! Having already shared the first five, in this solocast I’ll focus on the five I had left to cover. Listen in to learn about how you can take advantage of the repeatable, scaleable deal-making opportunities.

The First 5 Steps Towards Success

Our first five steps from the last solocast were:

  1. Know Why You’re Making the Deal
  2. Determine Who You Are Targeting
  3. Build Your Value Proposition
  4. Get the Right Resources in Place
  5. Choose a Deal Model

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to that one yet, please do! Those first five are really the foundation you’ll want to ensure you’ve set before you move forward.

Step #6: Choosing a Deal Structure

A lot of people want to jump to this step first! They’ll have a deal on the table, or be considering a deal, and they’ll already be focused on their structure. It’s always one of the first questions I get!

When asked, however, I always bring clients back to steps 1-5 before I spend time on establishing structure. If you don’t know the basics, like why you’re making the deal, what the value prop is, and what resources you need in place, then you’re not ready to be establishing a deal’s structure yet.

Finally, you’ll want your deal model in place before you choose a structure. The model gives you a template that allows your deals to be scalable and reproducible, which is key to making strong deals.

Once you know your model, then you’re in good shape to start structuring your deal. This includes legal documents that reflect that deal structure. We can take care of all of that before a deal is officially taking place. Even if the deal is already underway, we always encourage clients to use this opportunity to let us draft a series of template agreements that can be used going forward. The advantage to having these template documents is that you put yourself in the position to make powerful deals (and take fast action) in the future.

Although there are many more details regarding deal structures, this is the basic overview that will help you understand why it’s not a first step.

Step #7: Enter the Due Diligence Phase

General due diligence takes place even before you have a deal in place, and includes how you find people and what you need to know about the industry. It might also include locating conferences, finding professionals you’d like to work with, such as lawyers and brokers and bankers, and preparing internally for the deal.

If you’re already in a deal-making discussion, you’ll also want to do the necessary due diligence with your possible partner. You should thoroughly check any person or organization you’re considering making a deal with, whether it’s a joint venture, acquisition, or something else altogether.

Other areas to do your due diligence include legal, financial, cultural, systems/integrations, technological, investment approaches, and more. Be sure to think through what your situation calls for!

Step #8: Start Negotiating

This is an area I’m passionate about, as witnessed by my best-selling book, Authentic Negotiating, and the many podcasts I’ve done on this topic. This includes both actual negotiations and the process of getting the deal officially closed.

If you have a few deal-making templates based on your structure, for instance, this may be where you make some tweaks and customize the deal to the person or company your working with. Although you need to remain open to who you’re working with, you also want to balance your own needs and process against that. 

Ideally, you won’t fundamentally alter your deal-structure during this process, because you want to be able to use those templates to make deals scalable and repeatable.

Once negotiations are done, ideally your lawyers are able to complete it easily using the templates you’ve already put in the work to create.

Step #9: Think About Positioning

Once you’ve closed your deal, you’re not done yet! (Even though it seems like it might be.)

Even before you close the deal, you want to start thinking about positioning. This includes how you’ll announce the deal within your industry or marketplace. You should think through how you’ll want this communicated, and how you want it to be received.

If you’ve completed a merger, for instance, you should be communicating about what major partners may be staying on (or leaving), how you’re going to talk about it, and what you want the market to know from your part of view. You may also need to consider how your deal partner would like this positioned.

In addition, you’ll want to consider internal positioning. Often high-level executives are at the deal-making table, but there are many employees and personnel who are going to be impacted as well. How can you position the changes well and create employee buy-in so that you can retain (or begin creating) a strong shared culture.

Your people may be worried about increased workloads, new technology, changes to the pay scale, or decreased opportunities for promotion. Positioning is a way to address these things and create positive momentum.

Step #10: Start Integrating

Acquisitions, mergers, and many other deals require many parts, pieces, and team members to integrate. From choosing a cohesive CRM to selecting a method for communicating between team members or closing out a sales process, you’ll need to ensure that you have a strong integration plan.

Affiliate deals, joint ventures, and more also require integration because they’re asking people to work together. So many clashes, including technological and financial, can keep an otherwise great deal from succeeding. It’s vital that you’re taking the necessary steps to ensure that you’ve planned for your deal to last long into the future. 

When you follow these deal-making steps, you’ll position yourself for long-lasting, successful deals. That’s the best way to ensure ongoing success.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Preparing for a Strong Exit

Jay Offerdahl and his father, Brad, founded Viking Mergers & Acquisitions in Charlotte, NC in 1996. Now, Jay is the president, and he specializes in mergers & acquisitions, customized exit strategies, succession planning and seller representation. He’s a master of preparing businesses for a strong exit! In addition, Viking Mergers & Acquisitions also handles divestiture services for the mid-market company. They have dedicated and experienced advisors, and a passion for serving business owners. 

Since 1996, Viking’s team of professional advisors have successfully closed on sales of more than 600 businesses. Their team is uniquely positioned to help you navigate through a successful transaction. The majority of their advisors are former business owners themselves. They have been in your shoes and they know the unique challenges of buying and selling a business.

Listen to the DealQuest Podcast.

Following in His Dad’s Footsteps

Growing up, Jay remembers his dad buying and selling large machinery. Like many kids, he gravitated towards wanting to do what his dad did. Later, when his dad bought his first company and got into entrepreneurship, that appealed to Jay as well. He seemed to always believe that his own career would somehow connect to what his father did.

And, ultimately, it has! Not many people have actually co-founded a thriving business with a parent, but Jay and his dad have had great success with Viking Mergers & Acquisitions

By the time he was preparing to graduate from Appalachian State University, Jay did some job hunting and interviewing. However, he didn’t spend much time as an employee before becoming an entrepreneur. Like many, in hindsight he can see that he was spending way too much time working in his business. 

Having learned so many lessons about building a business from the ground up, Jay is very aware that his own experiences have made him especially successful at working with other entrepreneurs and business owners now.

First Deals

The first deal Jay remembers being a part of was setting up a candy store kiosk in a local mall. He thought he’d hit paydirt at 22 years old, and was thrilled to get started. Now, he laughs a bit about that and has fond memories of his humble beginnings.

One of his major takeaways is that there is no substitute for hands-on time on the job. You have to get in the trenches and learn what works and what doesn’t.

In every business he’s been a part of, Jay has seen things that really work, and things that don’t. He’s had to learn what his own philosophies and processes will be, and also what he doesn’t want to be part of his business.

Intentionality plays a large role in this, and that same intentionality has been a major part of determining who he serves, and what kind of deals he’ll take on today.

I Don’t Live to Work

Jay shares that he doesn’t want to get on a plane unless he’s doing it for leisure. He doesn’t want his advisors to have to do so either.

As a result, Viking has intentionally chosen to craft a business model that allows them to serve well, without pushing them to revert to “working to live”. So far, it seems to be working well!

Because of the nature of their work, Jay also shared that a “repeat” client might be someone they see every 10 years! Their clients are doing transactions, and in some ways the work that Jay’s team is doing is transactional as well. That doesn’t mean they aren’t building relationships, of course! It does mean, however, that they aren’t generating ongoing revenue from subscription-type models that enable you to build profits from repeatedly working with the same people or groups.

Instead, they have to continually pursue new deals with new organizations. After all, how many times does a single entrepreneur or owner have a company to sell that’s valued in the millions, or tens of millions, of dollars?

Why Do You Start a Business?

Having seen hundreds of transactions over the years, Jay notes that many entrepreneurs lose sight of the fact that the successful end to their business is to sell it for a profit. No one will be here forever, and the options available are to either close up shop, or to sell.

Being prepared to sell can ensure that your work will live on, and can also prepare you to enter your retirement years with a solid footing.

It’s essential that you’re thinking about the right time to turn equity into cash in your pocket. Some of this is based on feel, much like the stock market. 

Jay also jokes that nepotism can create problems here. It can be tempting to simply hand over the business you bootstrapped from the garage in its early days, but it’s often not the most helpful way to ensure success. He compares it to buying your teenager a brand new sports car on their 16th birthday. You could do it, but it’s likely not a great investment.

Instead, he recommends that you secure your own retirement first buy selling your business, then taking a percentage of those proceeds and use it as a down payment on a smaller business that you can plan to coach your heirs through building on their own.

The reality is, 2nd and 3rd generation businesses have profoundly poor outcomes. Some of that may be connected to the idea that a business should just be handed over to the incoming generations, without making payments. 

In fact, Jay notes that when his dad was ready to retire, he bought him out. It’s a legally completed deal, and Jay did have to take on debt, and risk, to make it happen. However, he thinks that’s an important part of ensuring that he’ll show up, go the extra mile, and be committed to achieving success in his own right long into the future.

The Deal-Making Table

Jay believes that a buyer is paying for what the seller has accomplished, but is buying because they see the opportunity to realize greater success. If a company seems perfect, that can also mean there is little to no room to actually grow, which is actually a downside.

I’ve seen deals fall apart because the buyer is attracted to a company, but isn’t able to see margin for improvement. There can be a sort of ceiling, or cap, that makes a potential sale seem less attractive, and that’s something to be aware.

Funny enough, even though growth margin is a good thing, sometimes the person selling their company can get offended or upset if weaknesses (which are also the growth areas) are named. The ego can get involved and want to insist that nothing is a problem.

Plus, going to market can feel emotional, even when ego isn’t a problem. Your business is incredibly close to your heart, and is often something you’ve poured years of sweat and tears into. Jay counsels clients to really focus on creating consistent results that are intentionally designed with an exit strategy in place. That way, you can go out on your terms, rather than having the sale dictated to you.

Do Your Due Diligence

Professionals know what buyers are looking for. Jay and I are both very familiar with what sorts of questions are going to come up. We’re also skilled at helping you navigate them.

As Jay notes, due diligence and preparing to sell can literally feel like a second full job. If you’re not prepared for that, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Due diligence is the opportunity for the buyer to really assess their risk. Understandably, most of them want to dig into the minutiae in order to ensure that your business will be a good fit for them.

No one wants a lemon, and failure to do due diligence can result in deals that should have never happened.

Listen in to learn more about Jay and I’s thoughts on due diligence and preparing for a strong exit.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Acquisitions and Exits

When Jessica Fialkovich sold her first business a decade ago, she had no idea where to start. Fortunately, she was able to exit successfully and then buy her next business. For almost ten years, she has built the fastest growing and most successful business brokerage firm in the U.S. But she also realized that business owners that came to her firm to sell were often not prepared. Although thousands of experts will teach you how to start a business and how to grow one — very few will teach you how to sell. So she decided to pull back the curtain about how the business sales process works and give buyers and sellers the tools to successfully (and profitability) complete transactions, including acquisitions and exits.

Jessica is passionate about small business and the entrepreneur community, and holds board positions for Entrepreneur’s Organization and The Fight Back Foundation. Over the past 7 years, her team has completed $250 million+ in transactions. This includes working directly with over 1,500 business owners, being involved with 350+ deals, and giving over 10,000 entrepreneurs guidance about buying and selling businesses

Early Aspirations

Jessica grew up on a horse farm, and dreamed of being a large animal veterinarian. After experiencing blood, however, she realized she didn’t want to go into a career that involved surgery.

Eventually, she moved on to an early high school job as a telemarketer at a gym. She was able to close a few memberships, and was proud of her success. (She also remembers how scary sales felt to her at the tie!) Those are some of the first deals that Jessica remembers donig. It reminded me of some of my early deals with gyms. When they first moved to a 30-day subscription model, some people thought it was ludicrous. After all, they had previously had people locked into annual contracts!

It was a great move, however, because people were more open to entering into a contract that they felt they could end if needed….and hopeful enough about their habit changes that they would tend to maintain the membership anyhow!

Lessons Learned

Jessica started her first business in 2009, which was mid-recession. Her and her husband had seen friends do well with wine, and they decided to open a wine tasting bar in Naples, Florida.

They quickly got into luxury wine dealing, including bottles that sold for $25,000 each. In addition to being a great business, they got into at the right time. As online wine buying started to take off, they decided to close their physically located business and relocate to Colorado.

When she started asking around about how to sell a business, she was only able to find one person to guide them through it. Although it was a great deal (60 days, all cash, 2 weeks of training), Jessica also felt that she had done a lot of the leg work. The broker wasn’t that involved, and a lot of the process steps, like due diligence, fell to her.

A Whole New Industry

The experience showed Jessica that there was an entire industry that was going largely untapped and unnoticed. 

After all the work to start, launch, and grow businesses (things there was plenty of support for in the market), there was little guidance for how to exit one well. No one seemed to be talking about it, which piqued Jessica’s interest.

Upon moving to Colorado, they launched their business brokerage firm there. In the process, Jessica decided to pull back the curtain about how the business sales process works. Her desire was to give buyers and sellers the tools to successfully (and profitability) complete a transaction. 

I’ve seen this as well; too often, we’re not taught how to create enterprise value and position ourselves for a strong close.

Business Brokerage Market Research

In the process of doing her market research, Jessica found that the acquisitions and exits process always tended to be similar, but the experience could vary widely. She wanted to bring support and assistance to every level. After all, many business owner’s retirement was tied up in the sale of their business.

Jessica set out to deliver investment banking level services for small businesses. One way this was accomplished was by providing their brokers with a whole back office team, including buyer reps and other resources. This team approach was designed to offer the ultimate support and comprehensive services.

One reason that services had tended to lack in this industry is that larger deals are more lucrative for brokerage firms. 

When the deals and organizations involved are smaller, Jessica shares that they have to be much more process oriented so that they can close more deals than a larger firm would. Last year, in fact, they closed over one hundred! One positive thing about this business model is that their risk is much more diversified.

Working at that scale also means that processes are key.The back office and admin team allow the brokerage team to do more deals, while still providing highly personalized services.

Starting as a Franchisee

When they got started with the brokerage, there was a defunct office in Colorado that they acquired. Their growth continued as a result of ongoing acquisitions. Eventually, it led to offices in Dallas and Vegas.

Jessica notes that the franchise’s owner had a very similar outlook in terms of where the industry was going. In addition, he emphasized process and resource pools as well. Being able to work with offices across the country has helped Jessica and her team access necessary resources and continue to position themselves well in the current marketplace. 

Scaling and fast growth have been beneficial outcomes that have resulted from the systems and expertise of the network as well. Jessica notes that, whatever deal comes up, she knows there is something in her network that will be able to offer guidance if she wants extra support.

Once you understand how to operate a business within an industry, deal-flow naturally comes to you. Jessica notices that many opportunities have come to them as a result of their reputations as top-performing franchise owners.

A Tale of Two Markets

After the last year and a half of chaos and pivots, Jessica feels that she’s seeing two markets emerge.

On the one hand, it’s a buyers market in many regards. In terms of picking up second and third markets, or breaking into an industry, well positioned buyers are making gains. Because of low performances over the last 18 months, many industries are more accessible than ever. A deal that would normally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a buyer could happen today for fifty.

Alternately, industries that remained stable or performed well during the last 18 months are in a seller’s market. There is a lot of money being poured into garnering deals in industries that have proven to work. Lending has also  been more available than it sometimes is, which allows sellers to walk away with much more cash than normal.

In terms of industry, Jessica notes that the winners and losers have been very clearly defined due to the current economy. 

To hear more about her thoughts on acquisitions and exits, as well as on today’s market, listen in today!

 

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Deal-Making Like a Producer

From Broadway to broadcasting, Dean McFlicker’s unique trajectory gives him a one-of-a-kind perspective, as he combines his creative prowess with business acumen. Dean has produced for NBC, HBO, CNN, E! NewsDaily, Good Morning America and more. As you might imagine, he’s been involved with a lot of phenomenal shows! Dean helped launch countless hits as Senior Vice President of Promotional Programming at NBC as well.  Those include This Is Us, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, The Biggest Loser, Friday Night Lights, and all of NBC’s live musicals. What a resume! (And this is just a glimpse of the work he has done.) If you want to learn about deal-making like a producer, listen in now.

I always love talking with folks who are coming from creative backgrounds. They often offer a new perspective on deal-making. (Also, shout out to former guest Li Hayes for connecting Dean and I!)

The Curved Path to Success

Dean notes that, like most people, he’s been on a curving path to success. 

As his ambitions and opportunities have ebbed and flowed, he’s gotten to experience many elements of the performing and entertaining world. It all started, however, with Dean being what he described as a “ham”. He was one of those kids who just always loved to put on a good show!

Early on Dean would create a script, produce it, and sell tickets. He’d also round up all the neighbor kids to be performers. Apparently he’s always been a director and producer at heart! In addition, he did his own performing. From his backyard start he moved on to Hollywood, singing, dancing, and acting. (He was an original cast member in the Disney musical Newsies. Apparently it’s actually more popular now than it was when he did it!)

Although his early days were in front of the camera, he was eventually happy to make the move to being behind them. It was a slow transition, moving from choreography to directing and working his way up. Part of his success came from being open to many opportunities. Dean often said “yes” to joining new projects and trying new things, including being an assistant writer, director, and producer for various shows.

Early Deal-Making

Dean considers his early backyard theater productions to be his first deal-making experiences. From wrangling neighbor kids and getting them to do what he wanted them to do, including getting them to take on parts and show up for rehearsals, to getting supplies for sets and costumes, Dean was practicing his deal-making savvy early on.

So much of what Dean was doing in his backyard required him to bring together key people and form relationships. In fact, it required many of the same skills that would eventually make him an excellent creative director. 

Now, Dean notes that what he does is really the art of bringing together all of the different disciplines to make one cohesive entertainment package. That’s just like business, where you bring together many disciplines (budgeting, marketing, sales, HR) to move your business forward. For that reason, Dean thinks a good producer is a lot like a CEO, as both are responsible for bringing together all of the different elements of an organization.

The Art of the Creative Deal

Dean notes that deals are definitely an art, and they can come together in many different ways. For example, last year he produced the world’s first Minion’s Holiday Special. This brought together multiple large entities (Universal Pictures, Illumination Studios, and NBC Television). As you can imagine, with that many players involved, deal-making is automatically involved.

Now, Dean also has his own production company, McFlicker Media, where he also produces for businesses. After all, great story telling isn’t limited to entertainment. At the end of the day, it’s also the heart of marketing. When producing for businesses, marketing related deals might include bringing in the perfect celebrity endorsement, or involving the star salesman for a particular division and making them part of what’s happening.

As an example of another sort of marketing deal, Dean shared that when you’re watching a movie, you’ll often see many different “vanity cards” denoting various film and production companies. In exchange for what they’re offering behind the scenes of a film, they’ve made deals that guarantee they’re getting seen and acknowledged as well. All of those sorts of industry norms are based on deal-making, including alliances and endorsements.

Not Just Features and Benefits

Part of marketing and experiencing organic growth revolves around telling the story. It’s not enough to just list features and benefits and expect to make a sale, or to close on a deal. 

Dean says that he sees the act of storytelling in a business capacity as being another form of producing. In business, as in life, you get to produce the story that you want to see unfold. Much like in the movies, this can be done really well, to great success….or really poorly, for a complete flop.

A natural fit that matches the product and audience while tapping into something true and relatable is the most powerful way to experience organic success. When you do this right, you’re able to build meaningful relationships. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I strongly believe in relationships as being an integral part of deal-making!

We are Conscious Creators

Although there are things that happen outside of our control, I very much believe that we are conscious creators in our own lives. We have an exceptional amount of power to consciously create in our own lives.

About 10 years ago I was at a business event and one of the sessions I went to was about living your ideal life now. It was encouragement to stop working so hard now and putting off all these things we are going to enjoy till “later”. Instead, we can find a way to create and live our ideal life now. That was a huge mentality shift for me, and it’s altered my life over the last decade.

Dean’s TED talk, How to Get What you Want: The Producer’s Perspective is very similar! In it, he shares that you can consciously take charge of opportunities and make decisions that allow you to create your best life and business now. One way that Dean does this is by using the narrative perspective, as well as other key film and television points that can be helpful in any situation.

(Listen in for two of his top tips now; you’ll find them around minute 20!)

Integrity is Key

One important note on using narrative and story is that they must be real and authentic. Anyone can create a story….but if that story is used to fool or deceive someone into making a decision or entering into a deal, they won’t want to work with you again.

As he’s moved into working with more corporate clients, Dean has found that assisting them in creating truthful, compelling stories has been a key part of his work with them. In order to have customers return again and again, they need to know that you’re being honest.

If it comes to light that the story you told was really just a story, and that it doesn’t align with the sort of culture or values that you had been presenting, you’re going to have problems! Whether that means losing customers or seeing a deal slip through your fingers, you’ll definitely experience fallout.

Dean has such an amazing background, and his episode is so interesting!

Listen in to the full show to learn more about his work in advertising, and the tips he has for using deals to decrease overhead and uplevel opportunities.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Deal Preparation: 5 Steps Towards Success

When I do whiteboard sessions with my deal-making clients, I frequently cover 10 specific steps that help us move towards success. This process is especially key for those who want to be part of ongoing deals. As I’ve seen, the more deals you have going on, the more important it becomes to be strategic and follow a process that works for you. Ready to uplevel your own deal preparation? Listen in to the whole episode, or read on below!

(I’ll cover the first 5 steps today. Stay tuned for my next solocast to get the other 5!)

1. Know Why You’re Making the Deal

Before you get in too deep with any deal, it’s essential that you have a fundamental understanding of why you want to pursue this deal. Is this about growth? Diversification? Furthering your purpose? Positioning yourself for further acquisitions?

The reality is, some of us are motivated to enter into deals for all the wrong reasons. I’ve watched people make deals that increase revenue while actually reducing profit. Some deals are driven by ego rather than anything truly meaningful. As much as I love deals and am a huge proponent of them, I think we have to understand that they aren’t always the best idea.

Finally, when you understand your why, you can communicate that with your partners and other stakeholders. That includes lawyers or negotiators, like me, that are involved in the deal.

2. Who Are You Targeting?

If you’re doing multiple deals, you need to have a target in mind. A haphazard search or method for connecting just won’t cut it, especially if you’re serious about making deals a sustainable part of your future.

Who are you looking for? What are your criteria for your potential targets? What are you trying to add to your business?

Whether you’re looking for acquisitions or affiliates (or something else altogether), it’s key that you take the initiative to understand who they are. In addition, you should understand how that pertains to your why.

3. Build Your Value Proposition

We’re all used to differentiating ourselves from the competition in order to generate sales or gain traction. However, we don’t always think about creating a value proposition for our deals. Doing so makes sense, though!

If you know your why, and you know who you’re targeting, you should be able to communicate why doing the deal holds value for them. What makes it worth their time? Why is this going to be in their best interest?

Just being “nice” people, or having a great company, doesn’t cut it here! Also, the deal structure or model is not the value proposition. (Those things are what you create to deliver on the value prop itself.)

So, what’s the value? Why is this deal, be it an acquisition, affiliation, joint venture, or something else, worth bringing these particular parties to the table? When you’re clear about this, you’re able to both qualify amazing partnerships and disqualify those who won’t be a great fit.

4. Get the Right Resources in Place

Before you create your deal model and choose a structure, you need to identify and get in place the correct resources. This can include internal resources, human talent or skills, capital, systems or processes, information needed, and relationships with 3rd parties. I encourage clients to do a resource map to tangible write down what is already in place as well as what is needed.

In order to be fully prepared for a deal, you need to know what you have and what you need.

5. Choose a Deal Model

First off, deal models and deal structure are not the same. (I’ll kick off the next solocast with more on the distinctions between the two!) 

Your deal model is how you’re going to do these deals. For example, in a licensing deal, you may have an exclusive or a non-exclusive model. Within those categories, there are more you can break the deal down into. From expectations around the number of deals sold, to clarifications on geographical boundaries, these factors are part of the deal’s model. 

The goal here is not to create a “menu” with a bunch of listings. Rather, the goal is to develop a model that keeps things consistent, scalable, and usable as you grow. The more deals you do, the more important it becomes to have clarity around your own deal models.

As you build your model, you can take into account your why, who you’re targeting, and what your value proposition is. In addition, it will be based on what resources you have in place. The model ties all of these elements together and sets you up for deal-making success!

If you just do 1-5, you’re on your way towards becoming an excellent deal-maker! Stay tuned for 6-10, where I’ll deliver more on structure.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

A Deal-Making Salesman

Carson Heady is the best-selling author of the “Birth of a Salesman” series. He’s consistently ranked in Top 20 Sales Gurus in the world and in the Top 50 Sales Authors on LinkedIn. Carson has held senior leadership and sales roles across four companies, including AT&T and now Microsoft. He’s currently the Sales Director for Microsoft Health & Life Sciences. In addition, he has extensive experience in operations & regional sales leadership, strategic planning, motivational management, P&L, advertising, marketing, and more. Along the way, Carson has proved that he isn’t “just” a salesman. He’s become quite a pro at the complexities of deal-making as well.

You can listen to our full interview here.

Sales vs. Deals

Long time listeners might be curious about why I’m bringing on a guest with such a dynamic, sales-based resume. After all, I frequently make the distinction between “sales” and “deals”. The reality is, they are different!

However, organic growth from sales and deals is not mutually exclusive. Here on Episode 133, I’m excited to bring Carson in to share more about how sales and deals can work together to benefit an organization. (My last guest who was a pro in the sales space was Daryle L. Johnson on Ep. 82.)

Getting His Start

Looking back, Carson notes that he definitely wasn’t planning on sales as a kid. In fact, he had pretty normal childhood ambitions of being an astronaut. (He also remembers wanting to be a writer, which is a dream he did achieve!)

After college, with no real plan for what he wanted to do, Carson ended up in a sales role. He had actually thought was going to be more customer service related. However, it was a very one-call-closed transactional based environment when he started. As he worked his way up and learned more, however, he realized how much nuance there could be. This was especially true in longer-term sales cycles.

As he developed her expertise beyond simple sales, Carson recognized that the “art of the deal” was really about alignment, milestones, and bringing along the right people. Now, he appreciates the distinction between sales and deals. He also believes there is a place for both.

Carson’s first remembered deal was from when he was at AT&T. They landed a large advertising deal with a big name. He remembers lots of different cooks in the kitchen, with many factors and stakeholders involved. The deal’s complexity was part of what helped Carson personally pivot away from the transactional, one-and-done model of sales as he learned more about the bigger picture.

Comparing Sales to Deals

To Carson, a traditional sale usually occurs when there are few barriers to entry, and the entire situation can quickly be surmised. Senior influencers or the board don’t need to weigh in as heavily, or at all, and things can move relatively quickly.

Sales tend to be quick, straight forward, and needs-based.

Deals tend to have more complexity, involve more stakeholders, require more planning and approvals from higher levels, and may take much longer to complete. (Although, of course, there are always exceptions!)

The major differences Carson sees between sales and deals, however, is the relationship factor. With a deal, you are embarking on a mutually beneficial relationship between parties. There are aligned synergies and an intent to work together beyond the moment of completion. Carson and I agree that a future-based expectation for relationship and growth are a major part of what sets deals apart from sales.

Strategic Resources & Deal-Making

As a trusted advisor, Carson notes that his deal-making experience has sometimes included bringing in other resources and organizations that might technically be considered competitors. As a result, he’s developed a very robust partner ecosystem so that solution implementation can occur in many situations.

This fits into the larger Microsoft world, in which the platform has been intentionally developed as an open-source provider. Rather than being the only solution, as a company Microsoft meets people where they are and strives to enhance and work with what clients already have in place.

When looking at deals, this “open-source” concept has served Carson well. He’s open to the major players, connections, collaborations, and resources that others at the deal-making table express an interest in bringing in, and he’s willing to find ways to work with those factors to improve the deal for everyone.

In fact, he can think of deals he’s been involved with that have included 12+ other parties. Ensuring alignment and being able to coordinate bringing all stakeholders together is a major part of creating deals that last.

Deal Transparency

Carson is a major believer in deal transparency. As he’s been called in to finalize deals that have drug out long past their expected closure dates, he’s found that his ability to clearly understand both sides of the table has been key. In addition, he’s able to surmise not only where the other side is, and what they may be struggling with in terms of budget or priorities, as well as what his own organization’s needs are.

He sees himself as both an evangelist and an advocate in the deal-making process. Part of that is always looking for ways to create wins for everyone involved. By putting all of these various factors into a holistic approach to creating a deal that will be a win for everyone, Carson has set himself apart as a really powerful deal-maker.

In addition, I’ve noticed that the best dealmakers are creative. Holistically looking for ways to add perks, create leverage, and build wins for everyone is truly a creative aspect to deal-making.

I really enjoyed Carson’s perspective during this part of our interview; I’d encourage you to listen in here.

Birth of a Salesman

Carson has always enjoyed writing. When at AT&T he was writing a newsletter column that was heavily oriented towards sales, and realized he could write a book. Of course there are already thousands of sales related books out there, so he wanted his to be different.

After writing Birth of a Salesman, which is sort of a book-within-a-book containing both a narrative-style approach and sales principles, Carson pitched it to 1,692 publishers and agents. About 15 actually read the material, and 6 offered to publish it.

Although he hasn’t sold enough books to retire, Carson considers this publishing experience to be one of the best experiences of his life. The relationships formed have been incredible, and, in fact, he can track back his Microsoft offer to connections and opportunities that were open to him as a result of his book.

The overall impact on his career has been phenomenal. It’s also continued building, as he’s been able to publish additional books as a result. His latest, Salesman on Fire, has been the best selling so far.

Carson notes that he’s worked with publishers, agents, and self-publishing opportunities throughout his career. However, he actually got his start by purchasing a book on writing and publishing books and using the tools he was reading about! At the end of the day, almost no one is making enough money on publishing deals to retire (barring major exceptions for well-known authors). However, authors are often able to leverage their published books into larger deals pertaining to speaking, teaching, consulting, and more.

Don’t miss Carson’s thoughts on leveraging social media and influencers, as well as distinguishing between sales and partnerships, which is towards the end of the episode!

LISTEN HERE

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Emotional Intelligence & Deal-Making

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Baxter is a corporate veteran and femtrepreneur, as well as an award-winning, certified emotional intelligence (EI) coach. She’s also a professional NSA speaker and recognized workshop/retreat leader. Dr. Pat equips women leaders to lead boldly and intelligently. This is done using the undeniable power of emotions. She works with women leaders at all levels who want to use emotional intelligence to build stronger, SMARTER work environments and connections that more fully engage their teams, partners and clients.

With 25+ years of corporate/entrepreneurial knowledge and know-how, a doctorate in business leadership, and multiple published books, Dr. Pat is a deal-making force to be reckoned with!

Early Career Aspirations

Early on, Pat knew she wanted to be rich. Beyond that, she wasn’t quite sure what direction her career would take her!

She did remember an uncle who lived with her family when she was young who. He frequently told her she was too emotional and cautioned her to calm down. At the time, she found it frustrating. Having learned so much more about emotional intelligence now, however, she looks back and laughs. She realized that, in some ways, he was right. Calming down truly does make a difference!

As she has continued to learn more about the brain, emotional intelligence, and human responses, Pat has continued to grow her ability to help others use the power of emotion to lead well.

The earliest deal-related exchange that Pat remembered was related to helpfulness. She realized that, by engaging in chores and doing things that were being asked of her, she could alleviate stress from others. In doing so, she positioned herself to take advantage of the implicit trade-offs present in taking care of business. Even as a kid, she could see the benefits of being viewed favorably by others and building relationships before it came time to make an “ask” at the proverbial deal-making table.

Emotional Intelligence and Deal-Making

When making deals, Pat notes that emotional intelligence practice and awareness is very useful. She’s realized that she’s able to quickly tap into the other person or business’s interests, and to understand what they may be seeking.

Another useful skill? Picking up on the language being used and incorporating that into how you’re communicating. However, she notes that the key to this working is to ensure that you understand the full meaning of that language!

Pat encourages deep listening, which includes watching expressions and body language in addition to listening to words. It also requires that you manage yourself! You should know how your own tone sounds, and be aware of what you’re communicating with your own body language. After all, communication is a two-way street.

True deal-makers need to do the hard inner work of knowing why we react the way we do, why we think the way we do, and how our own tendencies may impact our deal-making success. This sort of self-knowledge can also prevent us from sabotaging our own deals.

Mission Critical Skills

  1. Self-Awareness

Headed to the deal-making table? It’s essential that you have enough awareness to know what you actually want. You also need to know how you come off.

2. Self-Management

You have triggers that may derail you, spiral you into limiting beliefs, or cause you to shut down or lash out. We all do. It’s your responsibility to know what yours are and learn to manage them in order to best equip yourself for deal-making success, no matter what comes up.

3. Empathy

Empathy opens the door to understanding both others and ourselves. It is what allows us to express ourselves with vulnerability and to make connections that make powerful deals possible.

Why Deals Die

After years of making deals, I’ve found firsthand that personal client triggers can be a major reason deals die. The sensation of immediate dislike, distaste, or frustration that can rise up within us when we encounter certain triggers are powerful deal-making hurdles, even if there is nothing explicitly wrong with the deal’s terms or logistics. 

Deals die when we cannot overcome these triggers.

Even if you’re technically “in the right” or your frustration is legitimate, you can choose to manage yourself and your emotions if you’d like to close on the deal you’re making.

The reality is, our behavior is guided by all sorts of deep, unseen emotional triggers and responses. Often, these triggers come from the most unexpected things, which means that our own lack of awareness can cause us to cycle into unintended responses without even realizing it’s happening. 

In fact, Pat shares that our emotional triggers actually set off a chemical reaction in the brain. This can trigger fight or flight responses, which can take over our more rational responses. Once we learn to realize that this is happening, and that we’re feeling out of control, we can learn to create more space for ourselves and to respond in a way that will enable us to pursue the outcomes we’re desiring, even if we encounter an unexpected trigger.

Listen in to learn more about Pat’s tips for handling triggers!

Raising Your Awareness

Pat recommends that being aware of your body can help you begin to more easily recognize your own triggers. From sweaty palms to a lurching stomach, tingling ears to a foot that won’t stop tapping, you absolutely get physical clues about what’s going on emotionally. Learning to be more aware of what’s happening in your body when you’re getting triggered can help you  begin to prepare for the self-management aspect of being triggered.

Obviously we can see that being over-reactive can blow a deal. However, how emotional triggers can also cause us to go through with deals that we shouldn’t have gone through with.

Pat notes that our bodies give us signals about bad situations as well. Learning to watch our bodies, to get in tune with what they’re telling us, and to respond with compassion and intelligence can help us avoid going off the rails in either direction.

People who find themselves in an “endless loop” of failing or not getting what they want often have something, somewhere “disconnected”. At some point, it’s time to hold up the mirror and start to examine what internal work can be done to help you break through and begin to reach the next level. This is especially important for deal-making!

To learn more about the specific tools I use to get myself back into the right place, and to learn about Pat’s suggestions, listen to the full episode here.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Zoom, Enterprise, and Deal-Making

Former CNN Associate Producer turned Business Reinvention Strategist & Professional Speaker, Marquesa Pettway, (CSP) helps experts and organizations leverage the Zoom Platform. She’s also known as the Zoom Queen! Marquesa teaches that standing out on Zoom can grow your influence and impact. Her work results in clients creating engaging virtual events, hosting smart productive meetings, and growing multiple virtual-based income streams. Under her brand, Zoom Queen, she works with client acquisition,  Zoom Basics for the speakerpreneur, leveraging Zoom to grow your biz, and more. One major deal in Marquesa’s career was her decision to become a Zoom Administrator for Zoom Enterprise licenses. She shares that this deal changed the face of her business. 

Beginning Ambitions & the Deal-Making Journey

At a young age, Marquesa wanted to be an entertainer. Starting from middle school and through college, she was heavily involved in the arts as a result. This included going to a high-quality arts high school that required auditions to gain admittance. Once in college, she majored in broadcasting while minoring in theater.

Marquesa’s journey then included going into television news, which she did not love. Later, she became an executive in the industry. During that time she had opportunities to appear on stage as a speaker and emcee. Eventually, she began to look into how she could do that professionally. 16 years in, Marquesa fell in love with Zoom. (She notes she was on it the first year it launched, far before Covid made it common place!). 

The first deal Marquesa remembers making was after being the Girl Scout Cadet who sold the most cookies. That was back when she was in 5th grade. Because she had done such a phenomenal job at sales, she made a deal with her school to get to lead a school-wide candy selling fundraiser. As a result, she earned multiple accolades and made extra money. She eventually became known in her school as “the deal-master”.

Becoming The Zoom Queen

The way Marquesa approaches Zoom springs from her recognition of what a resource it could be in her business. For example, she notes that she lives in Manhattan. Clients would call and request meetings, and she realized that the amount of time and energy used up while prepping to go out, getting on the train, and being downtown usually derailed the rest of her work day. As a result, she started looking for ways she could still create a sense of connection without having to actually go out.

Once she found Zoom, Marquesa realized that branding it was key. One example of how powerful having her Zoom branded to herself? Early on in her adaptation, Microsoft emailed her about doing a breakout session. Rather than respond back with her rates, Marquesa emailed and asked if the contact would be willing to connect with her on Zoom. When she first came on, she was placed in the “waiting room”, which Marquesa had fully branded. There was color, her logo, a welcome message, and an option to download her ebook.

Once Marquesa had the contact enter her room, she had her own branding, of course, as well as Microsofts. This created a visual effect of connection between the two. At this time, Marquesa asked for more information about the event, shared her screen, and did a live mind mapping session with her on the call. By the time it was over, Marquesa was booked for not one breakout session, but three, one in front of leadership, plus a keynote on the main stage. That single call (and the extra touches to make Zoom a full experience) made the difference!

Zoom Enterprise & Deal-Making

Marquesa shares that Zoom serves as her virtual office, as well as a virtual studio, stage, and platform. She realizes that it’s one thing to show up on Zoom and talk…and a whole different thing to use it as a business tool. The latter allows her clients to take things to the next level while increasing influence and impact.

Now, this is something that Marquesa could achieve on her own; after all, she had a very successful business doing it! However, she used her deal-making skills to take her own business to the next level as well.

When she first queried Zoom about doing a Zoom Enterprise deal, Marquesa envisioned doing something really small, with minimal risk. She was curious, but not planning to go all out.

After they talked, the value of her deal soared. It ended up being a much larger financial deal than she had anticipated, which ended in Marquesa becoming a Zoom Administrator and making Zoom Enterprise deals. She has found that making this deal has enabled her to take her business to the next level by demonstrating her expertise and seriousness within the industry.

After entering into the Zoom Enterprise deal, Marquesa quadrupled her own client base. She realizes that, by taking the risk and extending herself, she also opened the door to showing up in a whole new way. As a result, she attracted a whole new group of clientele.

(To hear me talk more about why a deal like this involves risk, and how Marquesa’s mentality played into it, listen to the full episode now!)

Optimizing Strategic Alliances

In addition to building your business and making money, Marquesa notes that you have to be asking yourself what you deeply care about. One thing she loves about being a speakerprenuer is that she’s able to have a great deal of flexibility around what she does and what she speaks to.

Marquesa realized that she had reached a point where a lot of people knew who she was, and she was being sought out to speak and teach. She started to actively think about how she could leverage that in her business in an even greater way. One thing that came to mind was that she would often connect with or promote products or organizations she believed in or used, often with some vague concept of maybe earning an affiliate commission. She shifted this dynamic by instead creating deals based on ambassador payments. 

For example, Marquesa did this with Zapp Pad. After their first launch to her tribe, the company told her they had just seen the most sales that they had ever had. She started to recognize that she had the power to earn more than affiliate incomes. There were also opportunities to become an ambassador and spokesperson for some brands.(You can learn more about this Zoom integrated tool here!)

Leveraging Opportunities

Once she decided to get more serious about leveraging deals, she sat down and had a meeting with herself. She really explored her strengths. This included looking for ways she could use her own unique capabilities to stand out and grow into the next level.

One thing she had always gotten feedback on was her strong personality. Throughout her life Marquesa has been able to garner momentum, create connections, and ignite rooms with her personality. As a result, that was something she felt she could use to grow. On our episode, she announced that she actually has a commercial coming out that will be airing on national TV. The product isn’t attached to Zoom Queen (believe it or not!), but it leverages her skills. This is something she’s really excited about being involved in.

Marquesa isn’t looking to become an actress! However, she recognized that she could leverage the opportunity to increase her own name recognition. In addition, she could continue building contacts. Marquesa is able to get hired and grow her speaking business because of finding ways like this to develop who she is and why someone might be interested in hiring her.

Opening these doors always has the ability to lead to more doors being opened in the future, which is a powerful way of using deals to build leverage. I can attest to the reality that this is how things really start to take off!

This is a great interview, and Marquesa shared incredible insights.

I strongly recommend you listen in to hear about one final deal she shared about at the very end of our interview as well!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Overcoming Negativity for Deal-Making Success

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Deal-making success and mindset go hand in hand. You truly can’t have ongoing success as a deal-maker if you aren’t cultivating the mindset to sustain it. This week, I dive into how you can overcome negativity for even more deal-making success!

Listen HERE.

Why My Trolls Make Me Think of Mindset

I’ve started putting out more online content, working with a marketing team, and engaging in advertising over the past few years. As a result…I realized I have trolls now! The team will put out a post and get a couple hundred likes, plus a person or two who starts commenting nasty stuff. Sometimes they even start throwing around threats. (“We’ll report you to FB!” seems ever popular.)

The question is, of course: Why don’t you just skip it and scroll on by? 

Why am I indulging in this little rant? Because it brings us back to mindset

People who are successful, who have built well rounded lives, and who are happy with their work don’t spend time trolling other people on Facebook. It’s just a reality. They don’t have time to waste on social media. Especially not if they’re just there to complain about other people’s work, trash their free resources, or critique their social posts. (Note: I’m not saying there is never anything worth criticizing online. There is a place for voicing concern! Here, I’m just talking about trolls who want to stir up trouble.)

The idea that they will sit online and critique every step someone else is making tells me they aren’t really out in the real world taking action themselves. Rather than let myself get consumed with their opinions, I find myself shaking my head at where their mindset is. Beyond that, I don’t spend much time thinking about them. Instead, I just go back to my own business.

I don’t envy their mindset, I don’t respect their approach, and I won’t allow myself to be derailed by them. Why? Because they clearly aren’t operating at the level of success I desire. I’d rather think about my own vision, or my own mentors. 

Other People’s Opinions Don’t Need to Hold that Much Weight

If you’re going to take someone’s advice to account, make sure they are people you actually respect and whose opinion matters to you.

You have the capacity to filter out what information is important to you, and what actually helps you. And the reality is, online trolls, critiques, and naysayers have very little to add in terms of value.

As the most powerful influence in your own life, you can choose to look beyond these temporary voices and focus on what matters to you.

Relationships with people I care about, growing my business, making deals, creating something of value, building a legacy — these are the things I want to spend my time and energy on.

Other people’s judgment? It just doesn’t hold weight with me.

What’s Limiting You?

As a deal-maker, it’s essential that you’re able to identify who is in your head, and what messages they are sharing. You get to make that choice, and you get to give a platform to the voices that matter most to you.

If you have a lot of doubt and insecurities, or if your inner voice is filled with negativity, it’s impacting your confidence at the deal-making table! 

After years of doing deals and interaction with deal-makers, I’ve seen firsthand that successful people are very aware of what’s going on in their minds, and they don’t allow voices of fear, doubt, or shame to creep in and overwhelm them. Instead, they actively grow positive mindsets that allow them to see the bigger picture, respond rather than react, and stay out of drama (including the online kind) that would weigh them down.

You can do that too; by engaging in mindset work and getting clear about what you want your inner messaging to be, you can disengage from the negative and drama-filled and choose to uplevel your own mindset. As you do so, you’ll find that deal-making, collaborations, and opportunities begin to flow more easily.

Additionally, business deals rely on relationships. If you’re constantly in a negative frame of mind, you’re probably not as open to relationships as you could be. In addition, you may not be equipping yourself to respond to opportunities for growth and deal-making.

What Resonates?

You may not be an online troll….but you may find yourself having a tendency to be judgmental, think negatively, or otherwise engage in parts of these behaviors. So I’d encourage you to think about anything in your life that could use a bit of a mindset uplevel.

Maybe you have a business relationship, a client, or a program that brings out some of these negative tendencies in yourself. Maybe you have biases or judgments you don’t realize you have.

Think about it, and if something resonates, take the time to work through it! Only you get to determine what voices have power in your life, and that includes the ones in your head.

Listen to the whole episode here.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

 

Categories
Uncategorized

Superstar Deal-Making

Michelle Villalobos, MBA, CPA is a Superstar Activator, business alignment strategist, keynote speaker, and the host of the Awaken Your Inner Superstar Podcast. Michelle has been an accomplished speaker for over a decade, and has a variety of programs and speeches around personal branding, business alignment, personal empowerment and business growth. She’s a true pro at superstar deal-making! In addition, she has delivered these programs for companies like American Express, Bacardi, Burger King, Gibraltar Bank, Lloyd’s of London, and Audi.

Michelle is the founder of Superstar Activator, and also co-founded the personal branding self-study program, Make Them BEG. She has been featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s Business Section, CNN en Español, Lifetime TV, Forbes Magazine, Fortune Magazine, and more. Michelle also founded “The Women’s Success Summit,” which was Miami’s largest conference for entrepreneurial women for 8 years.

Michelle is in her 6th year as a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and is one of relatively few female members of its Million Dollar Speakers Group. She has earned her CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) designation and has been chosen to present to audiences of her esteemed colleagues at the Annual NSA Influence Conference, Winter Conference, several local chapters, and recently co-chaired the NSA Brand Lab.

Early Ambitions

Michelle remembers wanting to be many things when she grew up. In second grade, when given an assignment to share what she would be, she divided her page into four squares so she could have multiple answers. (Including an astronaut!) Ultimately, she wanted to be a superstar, and did not want to commit to any one thing. She loved dressing up, performing, acting, singing, and being a Jill-of-all-trades. 

The first deal Michelle remembers making was when she was charging group rates to teach dance classes to fraternities at her college. She’d charge a flat fee, go to their location, and teach in-house for all the members.

Later, her career bloomed as she started working with thought leaders, influencers, authors, and speakers (superstars!) who need to find new ways to monetize their magic. Note — this is NOT monetizing time! Instead, it’s looking for energy-rich ways to monetize in ways that don’t require more work and time. Instead, it’s about bringing light and uplift to the world.

Michelle’s clients are amazing people who are bringing exceptionally good things into the world.

Superstar Deal-Making

Michelle’s goal in deal-making is that everyone wins. She has an eye for looking out for ways that both sides of the table come out ahead, and she also considers how clients, community members, and the world can benefit as well. In addition, Michelle likes to look for “the win beyond the win”, which is a spiritual sense of benefit and good that come into the world as the result of a deal.

Years ago, Michelle spent a lot of time, energy, and money doing “good” things that she felt she had to do to get ahead. She earned her MBA, and was investing a lot of herself into doing what she felt obligated to do. Eventually, she realized she had lost track of her joy, and of her truest self.

She had to start asking: Why am I here? What is my purpose? 

Answering those questions, pursuing personal development, and growing in her own agreements with herself and others helped Michelle reach a whole new level of success. Now, she says her life feels completely different than it did 7-8 years ago.

I notice that people in the deal-making space are often really focused on leverage, advantage, and game-playing. One of the reasons I really enjoy Michelle is because we have really aligned philosophies. Like her, I believe that engaging in some of those strategies is counter-productive. Michelle shares that she’s seen people make deals because they were persuaded, manipulated, cajoled, and pushed — just because they signed the dotted line doesn’t mean the deal was ultimately for the good of either party.

Slowing down and getting into touch with deeper purpose can be a really powerful approach to making deals.

Deals Are Relational

As I often say, when you make a deal you’re either continuing an existing relationship or starting a new one. Either way, relationships are key. From business partners, vendors, clients, and more: there are very few situations where you’ll deal with someone one time and never encounter them again. (And even if you do….reputations get around, and you’ll interact with other people who know what happened.)

Michelle teaches her clients to have and grow positive business relationships that are aligned with who they are. A huge part of that means being in alignment with yourself first.

When coming into a negotiation, she notes that people often come in very aware of what they want, possibly willing to give the other person what they are wanting. Indeed, Michelle counsels her clients to come from a place of detached neutrality. When you can trust in yourself and have open hands, without feeling disempowered or grasping to “win”, you’re much more likely to have positive outcomes.

From a place of trust, faith, and neutrality, you can have the foundations of a great deal.

Michelle notes that when she comes to the deal-making table, she asks the other person what they would walk away if they got every single thing exactly as they wanted it. She’s prepared to share her own ideal situation as well. Once those cards are on the table, they look for deal possibilities based on desired outcomes.

Clarity, Detachment, Equilibrium

In my book, Authentic Negotiating, I talk about elements very similar to what Michelle was sharing. Clarity, detachment, and equilibrium are universal principles that can bring value to any deal. No games, no manipulation, and much better odds that you’ll both walk away happy.

These are universal principles; they’ve been around long before us, and they’ll be around long after.

Michelle shares that coming from a place of wholeness results in more powerful, long-lasting, fulfilling deals. Early in her business, she shares that she didn’t seem to keep clients very long. Rather than addressing the root issues – building trust, trusting others, being trustable — she would just keep doing new things. Because she was lacking that personal wholeness, it contributed to her business lacking it as well, which spilled over into deals and collaborations.

It wasn’t until she stopped and addressed her own wholeness that things started to shift.

Interestingly, many of Michelle’s early programs, partners, and clients have since fallen away. Getting clarity and making changes in her life allowed her to show up differently in her business, and that impacted everything.

Listen in to hear Michelle’s thoughts on polarity, the drama triangle, and more!

Raise the Standard

In deals, as in life, we have the ability to raise the standard.

Rather than playing at the lowest common denominator, or assuming that things just have to be the way we are, we have the capacity to raise the bar and look for those who will meet us there of their own accord. We don’t have to drop the standard; we can expect others to rise up! Michelle mentioned the movie Stand & Deliver, which is an amazing example of raising a standard and seeing others rise to it.

I also thought of those people in my life who raised the bar and believed in me to rise up myself. Their belief, even when it was greater than I thought I could ever be, inspired me to grow. That is true magic.

In our businesses, in our lives, and at our deal-making tables, we have this capacity. We can hold ourselves to the highest possible standard, and we can encourage others to rise with us as we do so. This takes empathy, courage, and self-belief; it requires us to have a strong grasp on our own wholeness.

Michelle shares great thoughts on rising up, raising the standard, facing challenges, and making incredible deals. Listen in to hear them all!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker. He is deeply passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!