Deal-making tips for small business owners

handshakeWe’ve been hearing a lot about the art of the deal lately. For most small business owners, the art of making deals is less about thinking HUGE and more about getting deals done right, not that the two are mutually exclusive.

So how can you get your deals done, and done right?

-Some people believe that business deals are a zero-sum game, with a winner and a loser. If you will be working with the other party after the deal, or if you may want additional deals with the same party in the future, OR if you may want to make deals with other people in the party’s circles of influence, the win-win deal works better. Period. Business expert Stephen Covey agreed.

-You can make deals only with the decision-maker. If the decision–maker isn’t at the proverbial table, you are wasting your time.

-Know who has the power in a deal. Who needs this most? If it isn’t you, find ways to assure you are not desperate – or at the very least, that you do not appear so. Here’s a fun article on the topic.

-Don’t bury important issues just to get (an inferior) deal done. Get them out in the open and get your important questions answered.

-Know what issues are negotiable and what ones are not – on both sides.

-Learn to read subtle signals during negotiations. Here’s a good Entrepreneur article on that topic.

-If a deal feels bad while you are making it, it’s probably even worse than you think. Apply a multiplier to that gut feeling.

-Unless you are getting married, most deals shouldn’t have “forever” or even very long-term clauses. Situations change, and escape hatches or exit plans can be valuable when they do.

-Deadlines can be advantageous. Urgency of real need helps get deals done.

-Aside from deadlines, many deals have organic shelf lives. When stale or stuck, they really aren’t happening. Know when to stop chasing a deal.

-Also know when to keep lightly in touch, because some good deals come back to life when you least expect it.

-Negotiating, at its best, is the art of coming to an agreement, not conquering an opponent.

-Not good at negotiating? Attend a seminar or webinar (there are many) or read a negotiation book.

As in all matters, model your negotiation skills after people you admire, not only for their ability to make advantageous deals, but for their overall reputations and ethics as well.

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Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. vSA has thrived for over three decades, and takes pride in forming win-win deals and lasting relationships.

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