You want to buy a business.  You think the dog toy business is where the future lies and you learn that such a business is on the market.  You contact the owner.  You’d like to learn more about the business, but all the seller can talk about is how much he wants the money from the sale so he can finally retire and fly fish full time. If that’s all the information you can get from him, will you buy the business?

One of the keys to successful negotiation is to put yourself in the other party’s shoes.  What are their concerns, needs, wants?  What are the goals they want to accomplish?  You need to sell your position to them based on their objectives.  Your wants and needs are irrelevant to them.  You need to demonstrate how well your proposal meets their needs and goals.  If you’re selling a business so you can retire, you need to convince the buyer the business will meet his needs, not that the sale will meet your need to fly fish.

People don’t negotiate to your needs. They negotiate because of their own needs. No matter how badly you want the deal for your own reasons, you have to make sure that the deal works for their reasons.

I recently read an article by Michael Dooley about the conscious and unconscious factors that go into persuasion.  He’s come with a model he calls the persuasion slide. It demonstrates how this approach can result in an agreement.  A copy is below.


The person you’re trying to persuade is at the top of the slide.  The nudge to start the process is the initial conversation, where you make contact and start talking about the proposal.  One of the things propelling the person down the slide is gravity, his/her own motivation to come an agreement. The angle of the slide is the motivation you provide.  If you don’t provide much (by just talking about you and what you want), that angle will be very flat and shallow, making it very hard for the person to be persuaded, because there is friction.  Friction is the difficulty, real and/or imagined, the person has which impedes  progress to get the deal done.  It’s the objections the person may have and the lack of information that may be creating those objections.

To improve that angle in your favor, to make it nice and sharp and send the person flying down the slide, is your ability to convince the person the agreement meets his wants, needs, goals and objectives.  The agreement is in his interests, not just yours, so he’ll want to go down the slide, he’ll want to get the deal done. To read more about negotiating to the other person’s needs, read my book 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation.

Ideally, when you’re negotiating that dog toy business deal, you can talk about all the places the business owner can go fly fishing after the sale and the owner can tell you about the fat margins he’s getting and the huge demand for the latest squeaky toy. You both go flying down the persuasion slide, happily knowing you’ll land where you want to be.