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

Business Partnerships Deals

Today we’re diving into business partnerships! Many businesses have more than one owner; you can spread the risk, add expertise, double your network, and share necessary tasks. It makes sense!  Adding a partner, however, isn’t as easy as just signing someone new on. From business issues to legal structuring, we’ll talk about the important things you need to know!

Fundamental Business Partnership Considerations

Business partnerships often arise when a new company starts. They might also arise when a new partner joins an existing business owner within their company, or when multiple businesses comes together.

However your partnership starts out, there are a few fundamental “buckets” you’ll want to consider.

Bucket #1 – Decision Making & Control

Who makes the decisions on what kind of things? Who has voting rights?

There are various levels of decisions that occur in any business. There will be distinctions within the partnership for who is in charge of what. For day to day decisions, there is often minimal documentation. Partners usually have tacit agreements about areas of oversight in order to keep things moving.

Once we branch into larger areas, however, clarity becomes key. Imagine one partner is a ⅔ owner and is a ⅓ owner. Does the larger majority holder automatically control all decisions? Do they have the final say? If no agreement has otherwise been made, this will be the default setting. (Possibly with a couple of exceptions under state law.) Alternatively, you may have a supermajority or unanimity requirement. That would impede a majority owner from making decisions without a minority owner’s approval.

Questions of selling equity, hiring/firing key employees, incurring debt or acquiring other companies?

You need to be aware if one partner has more decision making power than the other. All parties within the business partnership should have clarity around the level of decision making control they have.

I provide my clients with a list of extraordinary transactions for the business partners to review as they consider business partnerships. These transactions include large decisions like bringing on new partners, spending a certain amount of money, or otherwise making larger decisions. It’s crucial for business partners to get clarity on these matters from the get go!

Additionally, you’ll want to consider equity. Will everyone in the entity have the same class of equity? It’s not uncommon to create an A Class for founders, and a B Class for others buying in later. However, there are so many equity and capital structure variations that they need to be tailored to your specific needs and desires. Keep in mind that this is something that must be decided and created, not something that automatically happens.

Bucket #2 – Economics & Cash Flow

Who holds the purse strings? How does the money flow?

Just because someone holds a certain percentage of a business does not mean they are entitled to that percentage of the split. (If three people own a company, it is not a given that compensation must be split into even thirds.)

For instance, within a business partnership there may be a consideration given for services or contributions in addition to ownership. Whether this is paid as a salary, as a guaranteed payment, or as an additional distribution, it is important to understand how each member of a business partnership will be compensated for their role in the company.

Will the compensation element be directly tied to ownership elements? Or are there other factors that may be just as important, if not more so?

It’s much better to gain cash flow and economic understandings from the outset, rather than assume that others are in agreement and find out later that there are resentments and confusion.

Bucket #3 – What ifs?

What if someone dies or becomes permanently disabled? If someone retires? What if someone wants to leave the business? 

One important decision you should make within your business partnership is what will happen if a partner passes during their time as an owner.

If a partner dies and there is no written agreement, their share of the company will pass to their next beneficiary from their will. This could be a spouse, child, or relative. In an instant, your business could have a new business partner who, very likely, knows nothing about the business. For this reason, buy/sell provisions should be included in the operating or shareholders’ agreement for the business partnership protect the other living partner/partners from being forced into a business partnership in which they did not intend to be.

A buy/sell gives partners the right and ability to retain equity by purchasing it from the deceased’s estate. This is a powerful form of protection that can prevent a company from moving into the hands of an unintended party. It’s also a gift to the family, who is able to monetize their ownership and be compensated for their family member’s role. Ideally the estate or family receives fair compensation, and it’s a win/win for both parties.

In terms of being able to buy those shares back, we most often recommend a term life insurance policy that has been set up as a cross purchase. As a funding vehicle it won’t hurt the company’s cash flow, and allows partners to quickly compensate the family and retain shares via a buyback.

To hear more about how disability insurance can come into play, listen to the full episode.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider retirement expectations. Along with retirement criteria, you should discuss potential non-compete/non-solicit agreements. These would come into play if a partner leaves without retiring.

If a partner were to leave, what would happen with their clients? Is there a way to divide the business if members want to dissolve the partnership at some point? Are there buyout provisions in place?

The truth is, there are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to business partnerships. There are too many nuances to just pull a pre-formatted agreement off the internet. You can’t just use the one your friend used for their company. Like with the old Fram oil filter commercial: you can pay your attorney and other professionals now, or you can pay them much more later. That’s what happens when things weren’t done right the first time around. You end up having to clean them up or deal with a dispute.

Listen to the full episode on business partnerships 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 who is 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 Negotiating

Authentic Negotiating: Winning vs. Success – Part 2

Instead of Refusing to Negotiate, Refuse to Engage your Ego.

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” — Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

“Why would we table that issue? Jeff asked. “That’s a deal breaker.”
I had just gotten the Russian group to set aside our mutual concerns about the non-circumvention clause for a later session and my client, Jeff, was still uneasy. The problem was, he was still bent on winning, on beating the Russians. Even after he’d gotten clear on his objectives, he still struggled to separate winning from success.

I had more work to do. Here’s how Jeff and I worked through his hang-ups with winning:

Remember Winning is About Ego.

I had to remind Jeff that the behavior of the Russians was triggering his ego. They had succeeded in moving Jeff away from his objectives and turning his focus into nothing more than winning the argument against them. We didn’t want to win an argument, we wanted to achieve Jeff’s objectives. Before we could move on, Jeff had to check his ego and be OK with not “winning” this argument.

Consider Your Options.

Jeff had to be shown that getting the non-circumvention protection he wanted didn’t start and end at the negotiating table. In fact, we might have been misguided in assuming this deal would follow any sort of convention from the beginning. I told Jeff as much. We were getting our cash from the Russian group upfront. There was little we could do about due diligence, and we’d likely find minimal information if we could. I pitched something unusual to Jeff—let’s get your suppliers to agree to a non-circumvention clause with you. Jeff loved it, and since his suppliers had a good relationship with him, they agreed.

After a few days, we returned to the negotiating table with our objectives front and center and with more leverage than we had when we were worrying over winning the non-circumvention agreement. We were able to be flexible. With the suppliers on our side, we told the Russians that we’d concede the non-circumvention clause in exchange for three other key terms that were on Jeff’s list of objectives.

If we’d dug in on the protection clause, there’s no telling how long the fights would have been over Jeff’s other objectives. But because the Russian group was so pleased to have gotten a “win” on non-circumvention, they were eager to agree to our terms on the other items. In this way, we used their ego against them because we were able to not let ours stay engaged. What else could the Russian group have walked away with if they weren’t so insistent on this clause? They’ll never know, but at least they got that win.

Jeff and I were able to achieve his objectives by putting a win on the back-burner. I could be telling the story where Jeff and I refuse to move on the protection he wanted and stood up to the Russians, and how the stubborn Russians blew what could have been a good deal for them. But instead, we stayed connected to our objectives and realized how unimportant winning that argument was. In exchange, we got an almost clean-sweep of Jeff’s objectives in the deal including hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit for him on that one deal.

That’s the critical difference between winning and success.

To understand Authentic Negotiating, you have to understand the difference between winning and success. If you’re fixated on getting a win, you’ll never truly succeed. That’s easier to say than it is to do. A successful Authentic Negotiator knows when to put their ego aside and put their objectives front and center. How do you rate? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out.

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 who is 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 Negotiating

Authentic Negotiating: Winning vs. Success – Part 1

Winning isn’t Always the Best Outcome.

“The ego is only an illusion, but a very influential one. Letting the ego-illusion become your identity can prevent you from knowing your true self. Ego, the false idea of believing that you are what you have or what you do, is a backwards way of assessing and living life.”
— Wayne Dyer

It’s easy to conflate winning with success. It’s understandable. The common ways we think about winning and success are closely linked. If we win, we consider our efforts successful, and we typically quantify success by how much we’ve won.
I want to explain why that’s a precarious way of thinking and being. The best example I have is a deal I was working on in the 1990s, in the early days following the Cold War.

Business was just starting up again in Russia, but given the history the country was leaving behind, the Russians were cash-poor, had no access to foreign currency, and couldn’t get money out of the country. It would have been easy to walk away from a deal like this. The challenges were obvious and huge.

Most companies were trying to do everything by barter. Except the “unicorn” that approached a client of mine. A Russian group reached out and had cash, and had it stateside. They’d just done a deal with Perdue to fill half a tanker ship with chicken. They wanted my client to source tons of other goods to fill the other half.

So, we set off on what was a tough negotiation. The Russian team was not budging on what would be considered a common aspect of deals like this. My client, Jeff, was a middle man. He would connect them with suppliers, and a “non-circumvention” clause would protect him from getting cut out of the deal, as well as future deals. Their refusal to cooperate with this clause was causing Jeff to lose his equilibrium. It was putting the deal in jeopardy.

I had to get Jeff refocused to salvage the deal. I’ll share some of the key moments that highlighted the importance of focusing on success and abandoning the scarcity mindset of winning.

Revisit Objectives

I couldn’t fault Jeff for being upset. The refusal to bend on non-circumvention was a strong-man tactic that threatened Jeff’s ability to do business. His contacts were his livelihood. I had to remind Jeff that we weren’t at the table to agree on a non-circumvention clause. I asked him to list out his real objectives. It included the amount of money he wanted to make sourcing the goods, and a few other key terms.

Understand the Real Objectives

One of the material terms Jeff wanted was protection from being cut out of the deal and future deals. The language of non-circumvention had turned it into something more than it was. Jeff had to see that it was just one of his objectives. More importantly, removing the form and legalese that created the specter of “non-circumvention” helped him understand what he really wanted—protection. Why should he care what we call it or how we get it?

Once he was clear on his objectives, I was able to get through to Jeff and things started coming into focus. I asked him to trust me about what would come next. He agreed.

I went to the lead negotiator of the Russian group and said, “Listen, it’s evident that this is a highly-contested issue. Why don’t we just leave it alone for now? We’ll come back to it maybe the next time we sit down. Let’s talk about what else we have open.”

They agreed, and we now had some time to plan. To read about the outcome of this negotiating, look out for next week’s blog.

To understand Authentic Negotiating, you have to understand the difference between winning and success. If you’re fixated on getting a win, you’ll never truly succeed. That’s easier to say than it is to do. A successful Authentic Negotiator knows when to put their ego aside and put their objectives front and center. How do you rate? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out: https://www.coreykupfer.com/authentic-negotiating-success-quiz/.

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 who is 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!

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin

Categories
Authentic Negotiating

What to do With the Silences in Negotiations

I’ve told the story of Henry before. He and I were doing a particularly contentious deal. Henry had overpromised his clients and was feeling the pressure.

During one of the last phone calls we shared during our work together, Henry got triggered. In his ranting and raving, he said some things that would have set anybody off, and I would have had every right start firing back.

Instead I stayed connected to my CDE—Clarity, Detachment, Equilibrium—and it allowed me to do one key thing: stay silent.

Sure, Henry was comporting himself like a rabid raccoon, but his manic behavior was revealing. When he started making ad hominem attacks against my client, saying things such as, “he’s unethical,” or, “he’s going to lose his license,” I knew that I had the leverage.

More than that, by remaining silent and really listening to what Henry was saying (rather than just waiting to speak), it became obvious that Henry was pressing because he had promised his clients that the case wouldn’t go to litigation. They wanted to avoid a lawsuit.

If I had let myself to get into a shouting match with Henry, I wouldn’t have been able to effectively listen and process what he was saying and what it really meant.

If we’re connected to our CDE, not only should we know when to remain silent in negotiations, we should be comfortable with silence, because unless it compromises the objectives we’ve defined through Clarity, we don’t need to speak.

What does being comfortable with silence do for us in negotiations?

Silence Can Be Assertive.

You don’t have to be under arrest to reserve the right to remain silent. You have no obligation to provide an immediate answer to your counterpart in negotiations. Be contemplative, consider the response that can best serve your objectives. If the other side gets uncomfortable, it’s their problem—not your fault. You can also use silences as an opportunity to reconnect to your CDE and recall your context and purpose so that everything stays on track. Silences are your time to say “stop” and get realigned.

Silence is Disarming.

He who speaks first isn’t compromised. Playing the game of waiting to see who speaks first is tactical and inauthentic. That is not what we are talking about here. Silences that come naturally when you are in a place of CDE are natural human behaviors. I find few things more irksome than exploiting human nature as a negotiating tactic. You can and should choose to be silent or to speak when one or the other makes sense for you to your objectives. Silence from a place of CDE is powerful. If in filling the void your counterpart chooses to be reactive and say things without thinking them through, they could be revealing valuable truth—that’s why we need to be listening, not just waiting to speak. If nothing is said, body language becomes amplified. Keep an eye on that, because it will speak volumes—whether they are confident or anxious. It’s all information that gives you an advantage that you wouldn’t have had otherwise if you lacked CDE and weren’t comfortable during the silences.

Silence Keeps You in Control.

Being comfortable with silences and focusing on listening keeps you from being reactionary. Your expectations aren’t set by a typical exchange of positions. Your objectives aren’t contingent upon what the other side says or does, because you have clarity about what you want and are detached from the outcomes. There’s no need to speak just for the sake of following a script you think will get you the results you want. Either your counterpart agrees to your objectives, or you walk away because you are detached from the outcome and know there will be others that can meet your objectives. Silence allows us to preserve this control and frees us from the conventional back and forth that requires constant dialogue.

The Authentic Negotiator welcomes the silences in negotiations; they’re opportunities, not threats. But, if you’re relying on manipulative tactics that require a certain response from the other side, your deals will suffer through the silences because you aren’t getting the feedback you need to leverage your next ploy. It’s a vicious cycle. Authentic Negotiating can break that cycle if you’re willing to do the work. Get started with my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz.

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 who is 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!

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linkedin

Categories
Authentic Negotiating

What to Do to Save Your Negotiations

How Authentic Negotiators bring deals back from the brink.

“Negotiating in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.”
-Dean Acheson

About five years ago I was negotiating an exit deal for a couple—Bob and Linda—who had started a successful software company.

They’d been acquired by a larger tech company that was—they found out—only really interested in their product and client list, but at the time this company had also agreed to acquire Bob and Linda’s personnel, all while giving them a degree of the autonomy they’d enjoyed as leaders of their startup.

It didn’t take long for the company to renege on their end of the deal. They started letting Bob and Linda’s people go, and it became obvious that Bob and Linda, too, would be eventually phased out. Before things went any further, the couple wanted out, and they wanted to take what was left of their company with them.

The biggest challenge was that they were already livid at how they’d been treated. It was clouding everything, and their anger was making it almost impossible for me to do my job. For Bob at that time, this wasn’t a negotiation, it was a stick-up.

Negotiations were nearly dead when I had to get real with Bob and Linda. How did I revive the negotiations?

Return to CPR

CPR: Context, Purpose, Results. Bob and Linda’s context was outrage. They were losing sight of what was actually at stake, and were fixated on the villainous treatment that had descended upon their company by a greedy giant. Their negative context was also obscuring their purpose. They were only concerned with exacting some form of revenge. It was all so unproductive. Once we identified that their real purpose was to achieve a clean break, bring their clients with them, and return to how they used to run their company, Bob and Linda calmed down and were able to hold a more productive, effective context that would get them the results they wanted.

Know your BATNA

BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Bob and Linda felt like they were painted into a corner. For them, it was binary: the miserable status quo, or separating entirely with whatever was left intact of their old company. In doing so, they were giving their counterparts so much leverage. I reminded Bob and Linda that they had other options. Their clients were very loyal, many having personal relationships with the couple. They were in business with Bob and Linda, not the parent company. If Bob and Linda left, it was likely many of their clients would follow. These client relationships could be the starting point of a new venture for the couple. Once they understood this, the urgency to get a deal done subsided.

Make Concessions

Bob and Linda weren’t willing to give an inch on anything. Even the most tedious detail was contested with the same vigor as the central, material items of the deal. They weren’t focused on the critical objectives they wanted to achieve, they only wanted to cause as much frustration and trouble as they felt like they’d been subjected to. We had to have a talk about making small concessions that didn’t matter to their overall goals. The idea of absolute victory was poisoning their chance of making the clean break they wanted. Eventually things softened, and what Bob and Linda considered small concessions ended up mattering more to the parent company than we’d anticipated. It opened the door for our more critical objectives.

Be Open to Renegotiating

Bob and Linda were unequivocal on the point of getting out of their agreement. Renegotiating was off the table, but things might have gone differently for them if they hadn’t immediately written off the possibility of renegotiating. The reality of their situation was that Bob and Linda had the leverage. The initial terms were somewhat vague, but it wouldn’t have taken an expert litigator to argue that the parent company was in breach. The couple could have created great value for themselves in renegotiations while getting more definite terms that served what they wanted out of the relationship. Unfortunately for Bob and Linda, the damage had been done, but if there’s anything to be salvaged from a business relationship, stay open to renegotiating terms.

The truth is, a deal is never dead. Authentic Negotiating isn’t about letting deals die, but recognizing that the present terms don’t serve your objectives. Clarity and detachment give the Authentic Negotiator the freedom to bring deals back from the brink because there’s no uncertainty about what you want. With that clarity, you can always find a way to the right deal. It’s up to your counterpart to do their part after that. Being comfortable when deals seem to be spiraling isn’t easy though. You need to be confident. You need to be an Authentic Negotiator. Are you on your way? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out.

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 who is 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 Conversations About Difference Authentic Negotiating

How to Negotiate Across Cultures

Cultural barriers shouldn’t cause negotiations to stall out.
Karen was assigned to a team that had to negotiate a sizable deal with a Japanese company. As a young associate, she was eager to help her firm, achieve their objectives, and hopefully sustain a lasting relationship with an international partner.

She had done her preparation and then some. Karen knew the ins and outs of this company, knew the decision makers, had a good grasp of what the Japanese were trying to achieve, and how the two parties could come together on a mutually beneficial agreement.

When the Japanese arrived, Karen was feeling confident and ready to negotiate. Pleasantries were exchanged, and one of the important members of the Japanese team handed Karen his business card.

She glanced at it briefly, acknowledging the exchange, then slid it into her pocket as she’d done hundreds of times before. People were always giving Karen their business cards. She had a pile of them on a neglected end table in her apartment. She expected this card to join them there once she got home.

Karen had made a fatal mistake.
In Japanese culture, the way you accept a person’s business card is a very different ritual. You receive it with both hands and hold it in front of you. You read it. You look at the person and acknowledge that they have given it to you. Then you put it down on the conference table in front of you.

If you don’t follow this protocol, the Japanese consider it an insult. In all of her in-depth preparation, Karen had neglected to research cultural customs, and it was threatening to derail their negotiations before the parties had even sat down.

What can you do to avoid Karen’s snafu and keep cultural differences from stalling your negotiations?

Do Your Research.

There’s a ton of great work on this topic, especially in an increasingly globalized economy. Whichever society you are working with, there are certain touch points that you’ll want to keep in mind. This video from the Harvard Business Review is a good example of an easily digestible summary of how to approach deals with certain cultures.

Hold the Right Context.

For the most part, your context entering these negotiations should be one that seeks understanding. While there are certain cultures that will have a lot of overlap with yours, many others will have significant departures and it’s in the interest of both parties to approach the first meeting with a context of building a relationship rather than hammering out a deal.

Focus on Body Language and Tonality.

This is especially key if there is a language barrier of any kind. When significant cultural differences are in play, words aren’t always the most reliable form of communication. Certain words can imply different meanings depending upon the culture, which can result in crossed wires and botched negotiations. Body language and tone are harder to misinterpret. Fidgeting is a human response with no cultural origin. A stern or anxious tone is identifiable in any language, and it means the same thing in Japan as it would in America.

Be Patient and Open.

Negotiating across cultures can be a real challenge, and if your approach is to make the most expedient deal possible, you’re going to get frustrated. It’s important to avoid jumping to conclusions. I discuss in my book that something like the use of the quivering quill—a manipulative tactic in American negotiating—could be a cultural norm for someone else. In that case, you need to remain connected to your CDE—Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium—and not get triggered just because your counterpart is acting naturally. Be patient and remain open to the possibility that the behaviors that are tripping you up aren’t manipulative, just a cultural difference that can be overcome through understanding.

Have an Authentic Conversation About Differences.

If you seem to be hitting wall after wall, drop all pretext and sit down with the other side’s decision maker for an authentic conversation about the differences that are stalling talks. It might be tough at first, but these conversations can be rewarding and help get your deal back on track. I’ve laid out the ideal approach to these kinds of conversations in a previous blog, “Negotiating Our Differences.” Instead of letting these differences inflame frustrations and harm future relationships, an authentic conversation about your differences invites understanding and strengthens this relationship for future deals.

A high cultural IQ is critical for authentic negotiating success. Ignoring culture and forcing your own tactics is an inauthentic approach guaranteed to fail. There’s no easy way to reach understanding, but the authentic negotiator doesn’t let cultural differences threaten their objectives. Instead, they seek cultural information and understanding that can help them achieve those objectives. It’s a lot of external prep and inner-work, but I can tell you it pays off. How close are you to being an authentic negotiator? Take my quiz.

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 who is 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

How You Can Build Better Business Relationships

What’s the one thing your company can do to strengthen its relationships?

Business relationships are hard, right? There’s so much background noise and posturing and it makes being our true selves nearly impossible.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Part networking proverb, part running joke of the aimless deadbeat, this is a maxim that at its core highlights the importance of professional relationships.

Too often we leave our business relationships intertwined with outcomes and results that may or may not ever come to fruition. We put unnecessary pressure on these relationships with artificial timelines that really serve no one. Our business relationships are too important to be muddied by all of this.

Authenticity helps us remove these preoccupations with outcomes and timelines from our business relationships and just focus on the people, on ourselves. What’s more, building authentic business relationships is 100 percent within your control.

How? Relationships are collaborative, they require a give and take, right? Not really. Not if you’re rooting the relationship in authenticity. Start by being your authentic self. Show your partner who you truly are and it will create space in the relationship that allows them to reveal their true self.

That should be the foundation of an authentic relationship, but we can build upon that. I want to share with you the five tenets of building better, lasting, authentic business relationships.

Give First

If you want to divorce your relationships from the influence of outcomes, try giving first; try asking for nothing. What do you think would be a more effective way of establishing a lasting authentic relationship, approaching an industry influencer you’d like to know to advance your career and asking them to help you, or taking some time to get to know that person, and offer ways in which your unique talents can help them? Give first.

Care and Be Interested

If you aren’t interested in a person, don’t seek out a relationship with them. You can’t fake interest, at least not for a sustained period of time, not to mention that doing so is inauthentic and will inevitably poison the relationship. Our micro-facial expressions will betray us, and we’ll give off a negative energy that communicates our disinterest even when we aren’t meaning to. Remember, we’re trying to create lasting professional relationships, not temporary ones.

Show Gratitude and Appreciation

This should be a natural byproduct of true care and interest. Showing gratitude and appreciation is a genuine response when coming from that place, we just have to remember to do it. When we put out gratitude and appreciation into our relationships, it comes back to us. The results in our lives are a mirror of what we’re putting out. So, why not put out some gratitude and appreciation?

Mutual Respect

This seems like a tricky one at first glance, doesn’t it? Isn’t this all supposed to be in our control? Sure, I can respect them, but they in turn have to respect me. Yes, but no. When I talk about mutual respect, I mean you have to respect the other party, and you have to respect yourself. If you can’t respect the other person while also maintaining respect for yourself, you need to exit that relationship. It won’t be productive.

Trust

This is what all the other tenets are built upon. Following the other tenets means you trust you’ll eventually be taken care of in the relationship. The biggest lesson you can learn is that your benefits won’t be linear. First, be of service and trust that it will come back to you. It’s about being untethered to outcomes. If you want immediate benefits for being authentic and giving what you can to a relationship, you aren’t trusting. When you give trust, people know it, and it will create transformative opportunities for you.

If you can bring these five things to your business relationships, you’ll be astonished at how much your life changes. Remain patient and know that being authentic will pay off. For a deeper look, check out my video, “Building Authentic Business Relationships.”

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 who is 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 Negotiating

Becoming a Great Negotiator Step 5: High Expectations

High expectations are often conflated with the returns we gain from a deal or tactics like making a completely crazy opening bid in an attempt to reestablish the middle ground well above your real value. In practice, these are actually rooted in low expectations of your own ability to rightly negotiate on your own terms.

Tactics aside—we know how problematic they are—the concept of high expectations has almost become taboo. Setting your expectations too high is self-defeating, right? Sure, if you’re setting completely unrealistic expectations like “I know my company is worth a million dollars, but I’m going to get five million for it.” If that’s your tact, you’ll definitely fail. There’s an important difference between setting unrealistic, unreasonable expectations, and having high expectations.

Having high expectations is an exercise in self-belief and legitimate optimism. It’s about having the faith in yourself and your approach that you will achieve exactly what you want out of negotiations. High expectations aren’t external attempts to manipulate outcomes. They don’t come from that too familiar place of scarcity and fear. When we’re in a state of CDE—Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium—high expectations are reasonable and realistic.

What do high expectations really do for us though? Inevitably, something will change once negotiations get going and we’ll have to adjust our expectations. That’s only if we let expectations become reduced to the material terms of our deals. But the great negotiator doesn’t do that. Expectations set the tone. When you enter into negotiations with high expectations and you own those expectations fully, you go in with a certain energy that communicates confidence, that changes the way you interact with your counterpart and increases your chances of .

This isn’t just power-positive jargon. It’s supported by an observable phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. It posits that higher expectations lead to higher performance. Using schools as a promising environment to test this phenomenon, the Rosenthal-Jacobson study upheld the Pygmalion hypothesis that reality can be positively or negatively influenced by expectations—those we have of ourselves, but also those that others have for us. Expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Our mindset and how we carry ourselves entering negotiations matters. Having the right mindset changes our body language, and body language represents the majority of how we communicate. Realizing this will make your negotiations easier. When we have high, reasonable expectations that we own, we are eliminating the risk of our body language, tonality, and micro-facial expressions betraying us.

Still, how do we combat the temptation to react to the flow of negotiations and compromise our high expectations? It can be even more ruinous to enter a deal with utmost confidence only to let your counterpart break you down and watch the confidence slowly leave you. From there, your position is in serious jeopardy.

Having distance from the moment to recognize this is happening can be invaluable. Once you’re able to slow down, you’re able to use that moment to understand that losing a grip on your expectations and feeling your confidence wane are signals of being out of Equilibrium. Return to what got you here. Get back to your CDE, stay connected to your powerful context, do what it takes to get to your truth, and always be in integrity and remain true to yourself. If you do these things when you feel negotiations slipping the wrong way, you can regain a strong hold on your high expectations and become a great negotiator.

Everyone has a path to becoming a great, authentic negotiator. Not everyone is willing to do what it takes to become the person they need to in order to achieve the negotiation success they want. If it’s a path you’re prepared to walk, take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz for a look at the road ahead: Click 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 who is 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 Negotiating

Don’t Play the Tactics/Counter-tactics Game

I talk a lot about tactics and counter-tactics, and mostly about how most of them have no place in my authentic negotiating philosophy (they don’t) and the few good ones are not at the core of true negotiating success (they’re not). But, it might not be clear why this is such important advice. After all, if tactics get you what you want out of a deal, what could be the harm?

If only it worked out so simply all the time. We should know by now that negotiations get messy. Try all the tactics you want to try. No sophisticated negotiating partner is suddenly going to see the light because you employed the right tactic. All you’ll accomplish is bogging your team down in an increasingly erratic game of tic-tac-toe, blocking each other’s moves and no one wins.

The other party has learned the same tricks and tactics over their years as you have. They know what you’re trying to do, and you know what they’re trying to do. If they try the Big Fish gambit, you’ll opt for the “I have other suitors” ploy. “Sell to me or I’ll crush you, erase you from the market,” they tell your small startup. “You should know I’m not just negotiating with your company. If you don’t want to negotiate I’ll go to your competitor,” you answer back. They call your bluff, you make up details about a non-existent negotiation, and it just keeps descending into this inauthentic madness until the truth has become incidental, if either party makes its way back to it at all.

You can play out this same scenario with nearly any popular negotiating tactic. And once you reach a certain point, the negotiation either falls apart, or you strike some malformed version of a deal that you never would have agreed to a few hours earlier. What’s worse, the relationship is damaged, founded upon inauthenticity and manipulation. That’s the central problem.

Inauthentic tactics and counter-tactics are only concerned with getting the deal done, getting a win. What’s not considered is life after the negotiating table. More often than not, once the papers are signed, you will need to have a productive and working relationship with the other party. So, let’s say your tactics “worked” because you were negotiating against a less sophisticated negotiator or had leverage with a more sophisticated negotiator – How can you expect to nurture a trusting business relationship if you just spent the previous few hours making empty promises and trying to squeeze as much as you can from the other side? It’s bad for you and your business if that relationship is immediately strained.

If you’re unable to make a deal, you still don’t want your behavior during negotiations to have burned that bridge. You never know if you might need to work with that group or individual again and who they might talk to about you.

You’ll inevitably be faced by these inauthentic tactics. As an authentic negotiator, it shouldn’t give you leave to begin using them as well. If you’re well aligned with CDE –Clarity, Detachment, and Equilibrium—you can respond to these tactics calmly and call them out. “Sorry, but my quill isn’t quivering,” you reply with a confident smile.

That ends the cycle. They know you’re onto their tactics and they know you aren’t going to be employing any cheap tactics of your own. Now you’re in control of an authentic negotiation.

The reason tactics and counter-tactics are so common is because they are easy. You can search negotiating tactics online, spend a few hours reading them, and at least have enough to get started. Authentic Negotiation takes hard, inner-work to master. Are you ready to get started? Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to find out.

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 who is 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 Conversations About Difference Authentic Negotiating

Becoming a Great Negotiator: own your value

Two crucial aspect of negotiations are doing necessary external research and doing the deep internal work. If your information is lacking and you aren’t basing your strategy off of a complete picture and, certainly, if you have not done your internal work, no amount of preparation otherwise can salvage your deal.

While the idea of fully fleshed out data informing your strategy and doing the internal work to own it are obviously important for any negotiation prep, they can have the most quantifiable impact when we’re in contract or price negotiations. If you’re talking price—whether you’re negotiating salary or rates for services provided—having a clearly defined price is essential for a successful negotiation.

Have you taken the time to identify and fully own your own value?

If not, doing so before your next price negotiation is imperative. Letting your price get established mid-negotiation is the fast-track to failure. You’re sacrificing your own authority, devaluing your own skills and services, and letting your counterpart establish terms that force you to be reactionary in the moment. Whatever strategy you thought you had will quickly go out the window as your ideal price point continues to dwindle and you lose control.

Take an inventory of the services you provide your clients. Understand the cost of your time and effort. Itemize the results you produce to create as strong of a picture of your value as possible. Then find a number that feels fair and that you can live with and own fully.

At my firm, we don’t negotiate fees. This isn’t because we are looking to be tough. It is because we have done the external research and internal work necessary when we set our fees for the upcoming year to be clear they are appropriate and we fully own them. If the scope of services changes our overall fees may change but not the rate we charge. Although, we won’t offer our clients fewer services than they need and we won’t make less effort than necessary under any circumstances—and we will always provide value that at least equal or exceeds our fees.. We are aware of and stay connected to our history of achieving our clients’ objectives and getting optimum results. Our rates are going to reflect that, we comfortably hold to them and we have no problem if clients who are looking for lower rates chose to go elsewhere – in fact, we encourage it.

That’s what it means to own your value. It has to work both ways, though. You can’t just set a number that feels right or sounds good. Your price needs to be an accurate representation of your value, you need to be able to effectively present that value and then you need to deliver on that promised value. If you can’t back it up you’ll never own that price and it won’t take your counterpart long to dismantle it. It will come off as a cheap tactic and your position will be completely compromised. Your credibility for the remainder of negotiation is lost.

If you find yourself needing to negotiate your rates, you know, in moments of honesty, that you haven’t set them right. If you set an inaccurate number that overstates your value (or the value you can own at that time), the inauthentic negotiator is going to get offended or cave due to feelings of fear or scarcity when the other party asks for a discount. This is when the table banging starts and you get defensive, so that your inaccurate pricing isn’t found out. You’ve positioned yourself in such a way that your entire strategy is built upon inaccurate, half-formed information. Once that load-bearing price beam starts to crack, all of your other prep work becomes irrelevant. You have no choice but to become over-invested in the outcome or to concede and lose credibility and trust.

If you’ve done a fair audit of your own value and you know you’re able to own it, you’ll achieve the same clarity that I have at my firm. You know that what you’re asking for is right and fair. If the other party feels that your asking price is too high, that is their problem. With a fully-informed price point, you can remain detached from the outcome and be confident enough to let that prospect walk away. There will be others, because you’ve identified and fully owned your value.

Becoming an authentic negotiator is a constant process. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered my principles, there’s always more work to be done and new ways to apply the authentic negotiating approach. If you’re open to learning and continually evolving as a negotiator, it might be time to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Take my Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz: http://www.coreykupfer.com/authentic-negotiating-success-quiz/

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 who is 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!