As one of the hats I wear in the business world, I sit on a panel that is a kind of a match-making site for financial investment. Entrepreneurs apply to this panel, we assess their suitability and provide them with appropriate coaching, and then let them pitch to investors for funding, just like a real-life Dragon’s Den.
Which made me think about the television programme, which is really quite a phenomenon. It has brought negotiation to many millions of viewers around the world. In the UK it registers up to 4 million viewers per episode and it is filmed in 20 other countries.
I thought it would be nice to know what the Dragon’s themselves have to say on negotiating. After all, as a panel, the UK dragons alone are collectively worth a billion pounds.
Well, fortunately, we can know exactly what they think after the BBC produced a series of programmes called “How to Win in the Den”, one episode sub-titled “The Art of Negotiation”.
The Dragon’s Top Tips on Negotiation
Their five key points were:
- Know your figures
Goes without saying but it re-iterates how crucial preparation is.
- Stay in control
That is, stay in control of yourself and of the negotiation. Don’t get flustered, see our last article about how to think quickly under pressure.
- Don’t be greedy
On the other hand, know your value and do be optimistic.
- Know your bottom line
And be prepared to walk away; the corollary is equally true – only walk away if you have a good alternative.
- Have a strategy
Think it through, don’t find yourself surprised and not knowing how to respond.
Other things that came out were that they buy you as much as anything, so be rapportful and be credible.
On the other hand, it is clear they don’t suffer fools. So don’t bluff, if you don’t know the answer, say so, they will respect that. One pitcher was asked about his profits this year, he said he made a loss. Last year? A loss. The previous year? Another loss. Did this lose him the deal? No, they liked his honesty.
But more than anything, it comes down to giving them a brilliant proposition. Focus on demonstrating the value for them. If you are creating sufficient value, they will fight for you; if you aren’t, you shouldn’t be there.
Best of luck in the den!