Why the best time to negotiate is now

Matthias Schranner, an FBI-trained negotiator, about how founders get better deals during the Corona crisis

It’s a time of almost global lockdown.

The economy is grinding to a halt. And many entrepreneurs ask themselves what the total uncertainty about the future after Covid-19 will hold for them and how to juggle the many issues now popping up with investors, customers, clients and staff. The answer is pretty simple:

Call you investor. Call your clients. And get yourself an even better deal than you've had before.

Well, this might sound a little counterintuitive. (Don’t we live in times with the whole economy grinding to a sudden halt and the future very much uncertain? )Yes, for sure.

But Matthias Schranner, an FBI-trained negotiator who started his own firm, the Schranner Negotiation Institute, in Zurich with offices in New York and Hong Kong,  actually thinks that now’s the best time to negotiate for founders, because investors and founders are "sitting in the same boat". But you have to act quickly he argues in the Bits & Pretzels Podcast:

“You need to be the first one to call your investors, telling them, I want to negotiate because I want to find a solution for the future.”

Matthias consults global organizations like the UN, governments, and political parties. And he has coached hundreds of people - from ambitious juniors to top-level managers - via his books and seminars.

The experienced negotiator is also convinced that it's now more important than ever to focus on long-term deals with partners:

“You can’t negotiate the current situation because you have no idea what to do. So the topic is not to find a solution for April or May. It’s for the entire year. And then it’s easier.”  

In Matthias view now with the Corona crisis being upon us, is clearly the time to be as honest and transparent as possible as a leader if you want to close a deal - which appears to be a somewhat unusual approach for a negotiator

“Right now, there’s no time for poker. It’s the opposite. Right now, it’s not a game anymore. (...) Because I need you and you need me. It’s about surviving."

The situation also demands a strong, but transparent leadership:

“A good leader is visible and always transparent, coming up with this so-called open door policy. They don’t lock the room. They don’t have hidden agendas. They tell people: This is the situation and this is what we need to do."

2:57 We are all hostages of the Corona virus
5:30 Three things that founders should do immediately
10:43 Negotiation tactics in a world-threatening situation
15:56 Right now is not the time to put on a poker face.
20:46 The fine line between actionism and leadership
26:57 Only 1% of all leaders and politicians currently act in an exemplary manner
30:35 Stay home: Europe must behave like China, obey rules, don't go out and stay calm
32:00 You only need one word. Simple negotiation techniques that help you right now
37:46 Home Office until September! How to not get crazy in the home office
43:26 Why Silicon Valley is "the old world" now
49:40 Trust is completely overrated in the new world

Production: Regina Körner, Migo Fecke, Hubert Honold