From a critical supplier agreement or long-term customer retainer to a merger or acquisition, small businesses do deals in just the same way that big businesses do. These deals are focused on bringing cash flow into the business, partnering with companies that can help you expand your reach or bringing new skills and opportunities into your business. Whatever deal you’re doing, virtual support services can be crucial to success – helping with paperwork, due diligence, accounts and much more. So here’s a quick checklist on what to look out for when you’re negotiating your next deal.

Look for genuine interest – you can often tell when parties are genuinely interested in working for your business. As business owners, we can usually weed people out with a couple of phone calls – they are asking for too much too soon, querying your pricing for the wrong reasons, or you just don’t click with them on a personal level. A party with genuine interest in buying from, or working with your business will be prepared to demonstrate that interest – perhaps by signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement, or by demonstrating their market reasons for partnering with you. And remember that, when you source suppliers yourself, you’ll need to express that same genuine interest.

Know what you want from the deal – small business owners are often so excited to get an expression of long-term interest in their business that they forget to go back to basics. The minute you stick your business head on, and think about what you really need to get out of the deal – financially, reputationally or for your people, for example – you can start a much more serious negotiating process.

Remember that relationships matter – if you are going to do a deal with an individual or a business, you’ll need to be able to work with them in the long term. Battering them into submission at this stage will damage your relationship and put them on their guard. You need a positive, clear and open relationship that allows for your business interests to grow together. You can be both business-savvy and a good relationship builder, and it will be more beneficial for you in the long run.

Think about price – whether you are buying goods or parts in from a supplier, or you’re working on an agreement to buy or distribute your own products, price is important. You need to be on top of your figures, margins and commitments in order to have a clear idea of the pricing that will work for you. That’s where virtual assistant resources can come in useful – by outsourcing your bookkeeping or sales management, for example, you’ll have access to regular accounts and reporting that will show exactly what you can and can’t afford to do, and what pricing you need to look at in order to make this deal work for you.

Ask the right questions – research is important. If you’re spending money, you need to make sure you’re getting the best possible value. Why not ask a virtual assistant to work on some background research for you? This will give you an idea of what is standard in your industry, what other customers of your supplier are getting, and what is included in the offer. That gives you a good negotiating position when you get down to talking business. Always try and negotiate from a position of knowledge.

Get legal advice if you need it – many business negotiations don’t need a lot of legal advice, but it’s worth getting it if you want to make sure you’re getting the right outcome. For example, you might need help drawing up a template contract that you can use for suppliers – once you have one, an administrator or virtual sales support assistant can fill it in, send it out for signature and keep signed copies safe. For bigger, or more complicated negotiations, it might be worth consulting with a commercial lawyer so that you are confident about doing things properly.

It doesn’t matter what size or type of business negotiation you’re taking part in – the rules stay pretty much the same. And these deals are always easier if you have some support. You might have advisors who can help, or you might decide to bring in the help of virtual support services, to take away the burden of everyday tasks, help with paperwork, do your research and give you the support you need to negotiate successfully.

If you’re short on time or need some support with your current or future business negotiations, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.


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