How To Negoitate a Better Deal – At the Deal Table with Entrepreneur and Investor

In his Negotiation and Deals courses at Harvard Business School, Kevin Mohan uses his VC experience to teach students that showing emotion, asking questions, and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses can be key to a successful agreement.

“If you’re a seller and your price seems high, but it’s justified in some way, with market comparables or other information, it’s easier for the other party to at least understand your number, so they’re not as likely to get mad and walk,” says Kevin P. Mohan, a senior lecturer at HBS.

“If you can explain why you’re making a reasonable request and deliver it with a smile, hopefully you can keep the other person in the room and see what happens next.”

Mohan—former managing director and now senior advisor of $15 billion VC and private equity firm Summit Partners—teaches this deal-making tactic along with many other key negotiation strategies in the courses Negotiations and Deals.

Both courses stress what corporate leaders learn from experience, that a manager’s success depends largely on keen negotiation skills, whether the manager is trying to seal a deal with customers, seek funding from investors, or resolve internal conflicts.

In the Negotiations course, students not only analyze a number of case studies, but also participate in a series of negotiation exercises that give them hands-on practice with a variety of deal-making scenarios, allowing them to experiment with different approaches and see which ones are ultimately most effective.

Mohan’s students get a lot out of the courses because, after all, negotiation skills are crucial both in the business world as well as in people’s personal lives when they look to buy houses or cars—or even get along with friends and spouses.

“Students are at a stage in life when they are facing some important negotiations, and often working alone,” Mohan says. “They’re negotiating their job offer or they have a startup and are negotiating with investors. So these lessons strike home.”

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SOURCE: Harvard Business School