He was deliberately giving me a greater share of the business! Was I hearing this right? I almost had to pinch myself. Who negotiates that way? Aren’t you supposed to manage and leverage the situation to maximize your own position and get what you can? And this guy is deliberately handing me more of the business, without any ‘strong-arming’ by me. My business negotiating mindset was just turned on its head.
Dave (name changed) and I had been pursuing a new line of business over the past year. He owned a new technology for helicopter maintenance. It was amazing. It was relatively inexpensive, but paid big dividends in lower maintenance costs, increased aircraft reliability and safety, and was already successfully in use by the Israeli military. He came to me to assist him with breaking into the U.S. market. We negotiated a revenue sharing plan, and I was quite content with the whole arrangement. I was just happy to have this opportunity. In our agreed deal, he certainly stood to gain the most, but he had also invested the most, took the most risk, and owned the intellectual property.
We were on the verge of signing our first large customer, with the potential to make our companies incredibly wealthy. Dave then came to see me and said, “We need to renegotiate our deal.” I said to myself, “Uh oh. He wants a bigger cut.” Right? Who wouldn’t think that? But that’s not what he did. He reduced his own portion to give me a larger portion of the revenue. Who does that?
A Lesson In Negotiation
Dave, who was a successful real estate developer with properties in New York, Dominican Republic and other areas, was a brilliant businessman. He realized the value of developing and keeping good relations in a partnership or business deal. He had a business principle he’d learned over the years, and to which he stuck religiously. It was this: a lasting and healthy partnership is better for all, and for a partnership to last, all parties have to be content that they are being treated fairly.
a lasting and healthy partnership is better for all, and for a partnership to last, all parties have to be content that they are being treated fairly
Dave said, “Wayland, I have been thinking that our original deal needed to change. I’m concerned that a year or two from now you might feel like our deal isn’t so good for you and perhaps regret that you did not negotiate a bigger share, and this would lead to you feeling mistreated and degrade our relationship. I want this relationship to last a very long time, and it’s worth it to me and to our business that you always feel fairly treated. So, I’d like to reduce my portion and raise your portion.”
I was flabbergasted. The portion increase he offered was very good for my firm. I began to see why he was such a successful developer in a business that relied heavily on partnerships and working together. He got it.
Business As Life
It’s the same in business and life: lasting and healthy relationships are better for all, and for a relationship to last, all have to feel fairly treated. Whatever it takes to maintain that healthy relationship is best for all and totally worth it.
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