There are three major negotiation methods to bring a buyer and seller together in the business sale process. Keep in mind that negotiating means working with each other, not against each other, towards bridging the gap between the two sides.

1. Take it or Leave it

A buyer makes an offer or a seller makes a counter-offer – both sides can let the “chips fall where they may.”

2. Split the Difference

The buyer and seller, one or the other, or both, decide to split the difference between what the buyer is willing to offer and what the seller is willing to accept. A real oversimplification, but often used.

3. This for That

Both buyer and seller have to find out what is important to each. So many of these important areas are non-monetary and involve personal things such as allowing the owner’s son to continue employment with the firm. Or, the buyer may want extended consulting privileges with the current owner after purchase.

There is an old adage that advises, "Never negotiate your own deal!"

The first thing both sides have to decide on is who will represent them. Will they have their attorney, their intermediary or will they go it alone? Intermediaries are a good choice for a seller. They have done it before, are good advocates for their side and they understand the company and the seller.

How do the parties get together in a win-win negotiation? The first step is for both sides to work with their advisors to settle on the price and deal structure positions. Both sides should be able to present their side of these issues. Which is more important – price or terms, or non-monetary items?

Information is vital. Both buyer and seller need to anticipate what is important to the other and keep that in mind when discussing the deal. Buyer and seller should do due diligence on each other. Both buyer and seller must be able to walk away from a deal that is just not going to work.

Bob Woolf, the famous sports agent said in his book, Friendly Persuasion: My Life as a Negotiator, "I never think of negotiating against anyone. I work with people to come to an agreement. Deals are put together."

Business Brokerage Press