“Shark Tank” is a popular show where enterprising entrepreneurs showcase their products and services, with the goal of gaining an investor, strategic partner or both.
I am surprised that so many entrepreneurs show up unprepared to meet and sell to the sharks. The sharks are master negotiators. They throw out counter offers and question the success of the product. More than one entrepreneur has become flustered, blowing his pitch or giving away too much of his/her company.
We all run into sharks in the sales profession. Here are some lessons from “Shark Tank” to apply on your next sales call.
#1: Emotion Management. If you’re going to play with the sharks, it’s wise to improve your emotional intelligence skills. When the negotiation tactics begin, it’s easy to go into fight-or-flight mode. Nothing intelligent is landing in your brain or coming out of your mouth.
Solution – Normalize the interaction. Good negotiators negotiate, so be prepared! Visualize the predictable responses from the sharks. Practice your responses in the mirror. It’s important that your nonverbal communication matches your verbal communication. Strong negotiators can spot a crack in the armor.
#2: Pre-pitch planning. There is a basic principle taught in every negotiation course. “If you can’t walk, you can’t talk.” Translation: you have to know your walk-away point in any negotiation. On a recent “Shark Tank” episode, a gentleman got so flustered that he conceded 10% more of his company than he needed to. He wasn’t mentally prepped and certainly had not figured out his walk-away point.
Solution – Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em, prior to walking into an appointment.
#3. Be assertive and ask for what you need. Negotiators typically use time pressure as a tactic. Again, this is predictable behavior from the sharks. You have to make a decision right now or I am pulling the offer off the table.
Solution -- There’s a pretty simple fix to eliminate this tactic. Be assertive and set expectations at the beginning of any negotiation. In the case of “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs should politely inform the sharks that they are going to call on each shark to hear their opinion and possible offer.
Are you ready for “Shark Tank”? Visualize and rehearse responses to predictable objections and negotiation tactics. Figure out your walk-away point. Be assertive and ask for what you want. Remember: Sharks put on their pants, skirts and shoes the same way you do.