I can’t even remember how many times I’ve had deals go sideways when everything seemed to be going so well. It’s easy to get focused (and lazy) when you have an ideal transaction that should be a win-win. The price is right, the terms are okay, and everything seems to make sense. But for lack of a better way to say it, sometimes “shit happens.” Yes, it takes extra work to keep back up options in place that might not ever come to fruition, but it will provide an alternative in the event that your primary deal falls apart.
I get it. Everybody is comfortable and feels good. Things are moving along smoothly. But inevitably there will be a hiccup somewhere in the discussions. Maybe another partner within the management structure had second thoughts or there are some legal terms that can’t be settled. Without a substitute, you are left with settling for unacceptable terms or killing the opportunity all together.
One of the value-adds of a quality broker is to keep secondary options on the table. Of course, it’s important that everyone understands their position in the negotiation pecking order and be transparent with all parties involved but it’s good to keep everyone focused and motivated.
The only time I’ve ever had people get really angry or upset is when they have only one option on the table and for one reason or another somebody decides to walk away. People can get angry, take things personally, and lash out in a hope to create an intimidating atmosphere. Bullying isn’t a great negotiating strategy and it can leave everybody at the table with a bad taste in their mouth.
“Always have another option” is a lesson I learned from a client a long time ago. As long as you keep that other option in mind and our comfortable walking away you can negotiate knowing that this deal is it the end of the world if it doesn’t get done.