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5 Negotiation Tips to Better Represent Yourself to Partners and Investors

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You can only build your business so far before you need to turn to others for help. This is a pivotal point for you and your business and not something to be taken lightly. It can be easy to become emotional, but remember, negotiation is all about business, so ditch the ego but go in with confidence.

Negotiation is a skill that takes time and practice. Based on their own experiences, 5 successful founders discuss some tips to help you close the deal.



Before entering a negotiation, make sure you've explored and nailed down your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). This means going in with at least one viable alternative to fall back on so you don't have to take a bad deal. This can be a different vendor, a different investor, or another way of securing financing. If you don't have alternatives, you may not be ready to negotiate. - Julian Flores, GetOutfitted, Inc.

A. Cultivate the skill of reading people.


Learn to watch and listen -- to read tone, intent and body language. Look at the behavior of the people you're meeting with -- how do they carry themselves? How do they communicate their ideas? What do they really want to get out of the negotiation process? The better you are at reading people, the better you'll be at negotiating with them. - Steven Buchwald, Buchwald & Associates

A. Know your value.


My colleagues offer great advice, but on top of all these tips, you should always know your value. When negotiating any business deal, be confident in knowing the value you are bringing to the table, and make that resoundingly clear when you go in for the kill. If you can clearly sell your deal as the solution -- and not oversell it -- you should be able to close the deal. - Steven Newlon, SYN3RGY Creative Group

A. Ask a lot of questions.


In my experience, the opinions and stances of your opposition have most likely changed within the hour leading up to the meeting where you'll negotiate. Know what the goal is going into it, but don't decide on how to present it until while you're in the meeting. The best scenario is when you've asked the right question, where your opposition is giving you the answer that accomplishes your goal. - Jon Bradford, Colab

A. Find win-wins.


Having studied negotiation at Carnegie Mellon University, the most powerful tool I use is finding unexpected ways that both parties can benefit. Too often we focus just on price, but if you can provide referrals or other intangible benefits in exchange for a quality bump or faster turnaround, you'll be able to work out a better deal than just trying to lower the price. - Todd Medema, Sled

These answers are provided by members of FounderSociety, an invitation-only organization comprised of ambitious startup founders and business owners.

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