Learn how to improve your next negotiation – from small talk, to taking control of your emotions – it’s not as daunting as you might think.

Whether you realize it or not, biotech entrepreneurs are constantly negotiating. This might be bargaining with investors, collaborators, or vendors and CROs. Nothing is set in stone as you start your business journey, which makes negotiation skills crucial for the biotech entrepreneur.

For some, it comes naturally, but for many (probably most), negotiation is a whole new talent and an area that can be terrifying. So here, at Radyus Research, we want to give you some ideas on what to consider during the negotiation process, so you ace your next negotiation:

1. Are those your people?

The negotiation process can be a reflection of the future relationship. Is the other party being reasonable? Or are they difficult to talk to? Do they have your best interests in mind? Ask yourself, are they “your people,” and do you want to work with them long-term? If they are, you will both find ways to be collaborative from day one. If not, don’t be afraid to walk away!

2. the more questions, the better

Sometimes it feels like asking questions makes us look stupid, and we avoid it. However, avoiding questions can be the wrong approach in negotiations. The more questions, the better; not only does it increase your understanding of what is being discussed, it also slows down the negotiation and helps build rapport.

Remember, you’re looking for long-term partners, and you can use the negotiation process to establish trust. Asking questions will only help because these are human beings you’re talking to!

3. believe it or not, small talk is your friend

‘It’s terrible weather we’re having’. It might seem mundane, but small talk matters. It can help you establish that instant connection, and who knows – you might find some meaningful areas of common ground. A good connection will increase the chance of a successful negotiation and make it easier to work together in the future.

4. take it all in

Be observant. Try to zone in on your counterpart’s tone of voice, choice of words, and body language. Do their words and non-verbal cues match up? If not – it’s a good idea to bring it up. For example, you could say something like, ‘You are saying you’re happy with this proposal, but you seem uncomfortable.’ If your counterpart realizes you are in tune with their emotions, it makes it less likely they will try to deceive you. And “your people” will appreciate your honesty here. Again, a great way to build trust!

5. don't let your feelings get the better of you

Negotiations can sometimes get heated – many entrepreneurs approach the negotiation table as if they are going to battle. There are some short-term benefits to anger when negotiating. Still, if you want to establish long-term relationships, anger is very problematic. Anger decreases co-operation and increases the rate at which deals are rejected. Try to re-frame this battle mindset and look at negotiation as a collaboration rather than a competition. The best negotiations for long-term success are mutually beneficial to both sides. 

Again, use your experience during the negotiation process to establish if these people are “your people”. Ask yourself if they are collaborative and easy to work with based on how they treat the negotiation. Because building a successful biotech company is a long game, and you’re looking to surround yourself with long-term partners.

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