12 August 2011

Big Biz on a Bev-nap...

Business negotiations are happening around us all the time, often when we're least aware of them.

A naive entrepreneur or wet-behind-the-ears business person might expect Big Deals to happen in elegant board rooms over glossy conference tables or over five-star dinners in exclusive restaurants.  They might wrap up there, they may be feted there, but Big Deals begin in discreet places  -- on the patio of the local coffee house or during happy hour at the inauspicious hotel around the corner, over a greasy breakfast at the truckstop diner or while leaning against the car boot, at the ninth tee or between rounds at the dart tournament.

Depending on the deal and the deal-makers, the more's at stake, the lower a profile is wanted for those "agreements in principle".  Many the bargain has been struck during a smoke break in the parking garage.

In my own green days as a business consultant, I watched as three men in a middle-class hotel bar outlined the details, and then signed, sealed, and delivered a multimillion-dollar real estate deal on a cocktail napkin.  A few weeks later, the deal was trumpeted across the region's daily newspapers and business blogs, with all the expected shiny phrases, marketing department spins, and cautious-but-optimistic legalities.  The deal began on a rumpled, slightly damp Million-dollar Bev-nap.

The nine slides above, photographed in sequential order from meet-up to wrap-up, illustrate a real negotiation between two old-world movers and shakers, happening just a few feet away from me as I enjoyed a mezza plate in a local organic deli.  I could tell you what they said, but I won't.

Some questions for you as you watch the slideshow:
  • Who's buying, who's selling?
  • How receptive is the buyer?
  • Is this a make-me-or-break-me deal or just another day at the office?
  • Did it end well or badly?
  • What serves as a "bev-nap" for this encounter?
  • Is the buyer open to another meet-up?
Next time you're at the pub or relaxing on the Starbucks patio, stay alert:  there's a deal going down.  Your own next Big Deal may present itself when you least expect it.

See you on the patio! ;-)

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