Negotiating with Dragons

Negotiating with Dragons

Last night the BBC showed their latest guide to how to succeed on Dragon’s Den. The focus this week was on Negotiation, and a 5 point plan for success.

Here is the 5 point plan, with some sound theory behind it. Unfortunately, the programme presented the points out of sequence. I’ve re-ordered them so they are in chronological order;

1. Have a strategy

Presented last on the programme, the most crucial aspect of any negotiation is to plan  ahead and be clear on  your strategy and the tactics you may choose to use (don’t forget  to allow yourself to react to what happens in the negotiation, rather than be dogmatic). The programme showed Kate Castle as an example and her bold step of revealing her preferred Dragon (Theo). This was a high risk strategy as it effectively ruled out the other Dragons, but it paid off and she got a successful outcome. But was it pre-planned or reactive?

Good planning includes deciding what your choice of negotiating style is (competitive, relationship, collaborative or compromise).

2. Know your bottom line

This is part of point 1 really. Always be clear what your “walk-away” point is and stick to it. You need to know this before you go into the negotiation or you are likely to be disapppinted in the outcome.

3. Don’t be greedy

This starts in the planning phase, but carries on during the negotiation when you need to have flexibility. Look for a sensible level of investment and know what your WIN position is (what do I WANT? what is an IDEAL result? what do I NEED?). The example in the programme was Chinese entrepreneur Ling and her car leasing business. Ling’s expectations were unrealistic and she lost out.

4. Take (or keep) control

This is about keeping on top of your emotions and (if possible) your body language. Experienced tough negotiators will be looking for any opportunity to exploit your weaknesses, so you need to keep cool and detatched. the pitch for the mobile water refreshing unit managed to secure all 5 Dragons on board by using this tactic.

5. Know how to haggle

A crucial skill in negotiation that only works if you have clearly identified your WIN positions and you stick to them. The key thing here is that it is about give and take; don’t be inflexible, unless you stand to lose out, and never give something away for free. Know your “tradeables” in advance – those things that can get a deal moving. The ideal tradeable is something that is valued by the other side, but is of low value to you. Aim to identify tradeable that are valued by the other side as you go through back and forth negotiation (haggling).

So there you have it, a 5 point plan for successful negotiation, this time presented in the right, chronological order.

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The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

This week the BBC aired an insider’s guide to successful pitching on Dragon’s Den. They came up with a six point plan for success. Here’s the psychology behind each of the points;

  1. Create an impression. It has been shown that we make a judgement within 30 seconds of meeting someone for the first time. So we have to get it right. We need to grab their attention, and our dress, poise, and confidence rather than gimmicks are needed to create the right impression.
  2. Practice makes Perfect. There is no substitute for practice, and the more you can simulate the environment you will present in the better prepared you will be.  Practice prepares the subconscious mind for what to do, as well as the conscious. This is crucial for “programming success”, a crucial NLP technique.
  3. Keep your nerve. When teaching presentation skills, I always emphasise that the audience will not know you have made a mistake unless you let on. If things don’t go as planned, so long as you are prepared (see point 2), you can adapt what is going on into your presentation.
  4. Don’t offend your audience. Obvious really, but it is easy to react to a challenge from the audience. Remember the first rule of good customer service – the customer is always right (even when they are wrong)! Acknowledge what the audience has said, but don’t disagree. After all they have a right to their point of view even if you don’t agree with it. Lose the battle, win the war.
  5. Be Passionate. Remember Mehrabian. People look to our body language and tone of voice to determine whether to believe us or not. It may not come naturally to us, but if we can’t get passionate about our message, product or service, why should our audience?
  6. Be honest and credible. See point 5 regarding body language, but this is also about not making claims you can’t back up. It also takes us back to point 2 – practice. Good preparation means anticipating what your audience will want to know and how to give it to them.

So, there it is! All you have to do to be successful with your pitch. On the programme Kirsty Henshaw was identified as having give na master class pitch.

This first clip (about 3 minutes in) shows Kirsty’s pitch.

The next clip shows how Kirsty used the Q&A to get  positive outcome