How to conduct business negotiations with partners, investors, clients

Going to a meeting with a business partner? Don’t want to miss out on a big client? Or maybe you are looking for an investor for your online store? Then read our article and be prepared!

In this article we will tell you how to prepare and negotiate with partners, investors and customers. These are completely different situations in which we advise you to choose certain tactics of behavior. And only one thing remains the same: impeccable appearance, politeness and professionalism.

Preparing for the negotiation

Determine the goal that you want to get as a result of the negotiations. This may be the conclusion of a deal, a new contract, obtaining funds, an agreement to cooperate. During the negotiation process, do not allow yourself to deviate from the goal (minor concessions are possible, but no more).

Prepare several options for the development of negotiations – depending on what line the interlocutor will bend (do not forget that he also has his own goal). Rehearse them in advance, so as not to get into trouble.

Take care of your appearance. The more important the negotiation, the more flawless you should look. No T-shirts and shorts for men (better a business suit or at least a shirt with classic jeans) and cleavage with minis for women. For the fairer sex, moderate and unobtrusive makeup is also a must: Indian war paint is not an option. Clean shoes and well-groomed hands complete your look.

Take the necessary attributes: a diary and a pen – for notes, business cards and brochures, a laptop presentation – to represent the company, a bottle of water – to wet your throat, contract forms – just in case they will be useful! But turn off the phone so as not to be distracted.

Tip: Try to make an appointment on your territory: in the office of the online store. This will give you confidence. If the interlocutor insists on a neutral area – a cafe, for example – choose a familiar place. If you have to play on someone else’s field – prepare twice as hard.

Negotiating with partners

Your partner can be a new supplier, an entrepreneur from a related field, or just an interested person with whom you have decided to start a new project. This is a level playing field – both partners are interested, as they say, “in a mutually beneficial cooperation”. This means that no one owes anyone anything, both partners are on the same terms. You have to follow the basic rules.

So, the rules for successful negotiations include the following points:

Speak clearly, don’t put double meaning in your words. Would you like your potential partner to talk in hints and vague phrases? That’s it. Behave the same way: If you say “A,” it’s “A” and not “B” or “C.” Be especially careful to adhere to this rule in written agreements. Of course, you can, to put stars in the contract and write out half of the conditions in fine print, but then they want to do business with you? Word of mouth in the business world is spreading fast: do not ruin your reputation.

Be honest. Tell the truth about your online store, describe the advantages and disadvantages, share your prospects and plans for the future. Tell everything except the state of your bank account 🙂

Clarify. It happens that the interlocutor himself expresses himself vaguely, he is not telling you something, or skips from topic to topic. Do not hesitate to ask questions and clarify – perhaps the details are where the dog is buried.

Be polite. Even if your intended partner is beneath you in social status, avoid sarcasm and pannibalism: Be emphatically correct. No one knows how life will turn out in the future: maybe today’s young man rocket up, and you, on the contrary, things will not go so smoothly. In short, remember the Russian proverb: “Do not spit in the well – it will be useful to drink water.

Do not try to pull the blanket over yourself. There is an opinion that the more assertive to behave in negotiations, the more active you are in “pushing” for favorable conditions – the better. Stomp out such advisors: so you just earned a reputation for rude types, with whom you can’t make oatmeal. And the rumors in the business community … well, you get the rest.

Friendship is friendship, but tobacco is not. Experienced entrepreneurs say that with friends and good acquaintances need to be most circumspect. It is true: it is harder to refuse a friend, it is easier to give in and hope for his decency. And the result can be unpredictable. Trust, but verify!

Take notes. This rule, by the way, is characteristic of the following sections of our article. Make a habit of writing down the most important points during negotiations. They will be useful to you after the meeting, when you are summing up. And at the end of the negotiation, it’s a good idea to talk through the main points and make sure you understand each other.

Advice: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a reliable partner at the first attempt. People are different: everyone has their own vision of the situation, their own methods of doing business, their own values, after all. What is normal for your partner may be unacceptable for you. The main thing is to find a person with whom you are on the same page: they make the best partners!

Negotiating with investors

A completely different situation: you are dependent on the investor, or more precisely, on his money. We have already written about how to find an investor for your online store. What remains to be understood is what to talk to him about and how to behave:

Do not boast. Investors are serious uncles, they negotiate all the time and are able to unravel any lie. Can you imagine how many times they’ve heard speeches about “we have the best startup,” that “we’ll definitely spin out soon” and “tear up the market”? At best, such talk will cause a chuckle, at worst, they will refuse to work with you. You will have to really get interested in the interlocutor to get what he wants – funds for business development.

Do not bluff. If you have zero start-up capital, lack of associates and partners, no other investors – just say so, perhaps your strength lies elsewhere. Remember that all words are checked – no investor will invest money without checking the starter under a microscope.

Give specifics. Not “millions in turnover someday later,” but “we will reach such and such a turnover in a year: here are the calculations, and here is the business plan. Not “we have the best suppliers”, but “here’s a list of our suppliers: here are contracts, here are obligations, and here are guarantees”. Not “we work all over Russia”, but “we deliver to so-and-so cities, here’s the list. And so on.

Talk about the benefits of your business. What’s the point of crying that business is bad, taxes are rising, the competition is overpowering – last week opened another five online stores, and all on your topic? Investors are well aware of how hard it is to run a small business in this country. Tune in to a positive way: talk about how exactly your store is different from the others, and that specifically you are doing to stay afloat.

Do not berate your competitors. For you, Horns and Horses is a direct competitor, but for the investor, it’s just another company (and maybe more: who knows, maybe the investor is working with them too?). If you have a guarantee that you will take a competitor out of the market, say so, backed up by evidence. If there are competitive advantages, say what they are. Businessmen use numbers, not emotion. Better yet, make friends with your competitors, do cross-marketing and tell your investor about it.

Don’t ingratiate yourself. The other extreme is to adopt a subservient tone from the beginning of the negotiation and agree with the investor on everything. Even if your conversation partner is much more experienced, behave with dignity. Act like a real businessman: answer uncomfortable questions with honor, show your competence and knowledge of the market, show your loyalty to your competitors.

Tip: Be honest, tell the whole truth – it’s better than bragging and an immoderate sense of self-importance. The investor may think that he is dealing with an overconfident youngster, and will refuse to help you.

Negotiating with clients

Yay, a truckload of clients has turned over on your street! You’ve been approached by someone who wants to buy a large shipment of goods – probably at a wholesale price. Either way, this collaboration promises to be profitable, so you need to meet and discuss all the details. To some extent, your position in these negotiations is also dependent: if the customer is large and promising, you can’t let him go. On the other hand, he approached you, which means he is also interested. This means there will be a big game, and it’s up to you to be the winner!

Be polite. Follow the rules of business etiquette: this will show the client that the service in your online store is excellent, and he has nothing to fear in the future. And you are a modern educated manager, with whom it is a pleasure to do business.

Tell the truth. Do not cheat, do not talk about your super-profits and VIP-clients, if there are none. It is not easy to check this, but if the deception is revealed – rumors in the business environment spread at the speed of light.

Bluff, but not too much. Yes, yes, this rule works the other way around. Even if you’re jumping for joy that you can get a profitable client, don’t show it. Of course, talk about the fact that in front of your office is a queue of others who want it, too: let the interlocutor understand that he is the only and unique, at the same time tactfully tell him that business is going great, and there is no lack of customers.

Find out what the customer needs. Find out why he needs this cooperation, what his goals are, why he chose you. This will make it easier to draw a line of conversation and choose the right tone.

Tell him about the principles of your online store, its corporate culture. For example, you always make out returns – even if the law allows not to return the goods, you go to meet the customer. Or you have another distinctive sign – branded packaging, gifts as a gift to the order. Give full information, so that there are no surprises in the process.

Tip: Take care of the big customers, sometimes they are the mainstay of the whole e-commerce business. Conduct promotions, sales, and discounts to make occasional customers into loyal customers. Don’t let your competitors poach them!

And then what?

So, the negotiations have taken place. You struck a deal and agreed (we will not now consider cases where no agreement was reached). What do we do now?

Do not sign the contract immediately, do not start new projects – take a little time out to think things over again. Listen to your intuition – it will help you understand whether it is worth it to start business with this partner. Enlist the word of mouth – find out about the person. But do not overextend too much – the heat may burn out, and the partner – change his mind. Two or three days is enough!

Write an e-mail to the interlocutor, in which you should thank him for the meeting, reflect once again the main points and express your desire to begin cooperation as soon as possible. Just in case you have to write down the figures that were discussed during the negotiation (the amount of investment, the number of items, and so on) – what if the interlocutor understood something wrong? If he suddenly does not answer – wait a day or two and then remind yourself again. If silence again – it’s better to step back than to impose. Everything happens: your partner could change his mind.

When you start cooperating, keep your promises. You did not make notes for nothing: periodically bring them up and do not deviate from the set course. Don’t break agreements – otherwise the rumors in the business community … well, et cetera.

And finally

Successful business negotiations – this is only the beginning of a long collaboration. Now everything depends on you (and your partner). Good luck in your promotion!