Having a formula and understanding the fundamentals of successful negotiation can help you make the best deal possible and avoid lost opportunities.

Negotiation may seem a daunting task, but when handled in a balanced manner, negotiation can be a positive experience rather than a negative one. The negotiation strategy should be one that results in a winning deal for both parties. It's not about who strong-arms the other. Nor is it a game with a winner and loser. It’s a complex process for sure.

A good deal is never one-sided. Negotiation isn't about capitulation, it's about finding a mutually acceptable solution. If the parties can determine the factors that are most important to each, the price and the terms of the deal can be structured to meet those needs.

The following are some key negotiating tips. While they can't guarantee that you will always get what you want in a negotiation situation, they will certainly enhance your chances for success.
  1. Before you enter into the negotiation you should already have determined the maximum amount you can offer based upon your personal financial situation.
  2. Resolve the toughest issues first. Focus on what you absolutely need, and what you can do without.
  3. Make sure your offer is realistic. You may want to get your own valuation of the business if you think the price expectation of the seller is not in line with your price determination. You're doomed to fail before you even get a chance if your offer price is way off base in the seller's eyes.
  4. Consult with an attorney or CPA to learn about the various tax and legal ramifications of the purchase.
  5. Learn as much about the selling party as you can. Why is the business being sold? What are their key needs? Are they pressured for time? Are they negotiating with anyone else?
  6. While keeping it professional, don't be afraid to get personal. The business is personal to the seller. Humanizing the other side's priorities is just as important as understanding your own if you want to structure a winning deal.
  7. Keep egos at bay. Don't let your emotions get in the way. If frustration sets in and you're getting a little hot under the collar, take time to cool down. This is when you need not take the seller's negotiating tactic as personal
  8. Don't get bogged down in minor details. Stay focused on your key issues. It's easy to get sidetracked. Get the necessary information you need to move forward.
  9. Focus on common interests. If negotiations seem to be faltering, isolate the issue and dig a little deeper to find the root of the problem. When there's a will to find common ground and continue discussions, a solution can be found to mend the rift.
  10. If the situation gets to the point where it seems impossible to accomplish, but you aren't ready to give up, take time out to reassess. There may be alternative or outside-the-box strategies. An experienced business broker can often work through tough issues and get the process back on track. Discuss different scenarios with your trusted advisors before making a decision.