Set Up to Win

Set Up to Win

“You had me at hello.” —quote from the movie Jerry Maguire

If it’s true that people subconsciously judge a book by its cover, then the first impression is key when it comes to a potential new relationship. This is especially true when seeking investment, partners, or new customers.

Contrary to many’s beliefs, the deal doesn’t start when you sit down to make the ask or negotiate the terms. Oh no, it starts long before that. And great negotiators and dealmakers know this.

The Set Up

“That was the easiest deal I ever did…” said one of our clients a few years ago. “I have never seen someone close a deal on the first conversation! How did you do it?”

What our friend didn’t know, was that his first conversation was our twentieth. We had built relationships, developed reputation, cultivated friendships, learned about his particular business, fielded initial questions and information, then and only then did we make the introduction to our friend.

They closed several hundred thousand dollars in that investment. From what seemed like one conversation.

Some keys to setting someone up to win:

  • Relationship development. Getting to know the investors/partners/client you’re working with and what they are looking for to be successful.
  • Keeping them involved in what you’re working on. This doesn’t mean an email or phone call every week, but depending on that nature of your business, perhaps a little hello every few months and something significant once or twice a year.
  • Giving enough info to keep them interested without giving it all away. This is important. You don’t want to steal the pitcher’s thunder. You everyone to come to the table chomping at the bit to learn more about each other.
  • They both should think they other person is a rockstar. Don’t exaggerate or overstate who each person is, but honestly and genuinely share about who you’re introducing and why you want them to connect.

That’s how you set someone up to win. You frame the expectations in the room and set the appropriate guidelines. Then let the entrepreneur share his idea and allow the investors to learn more.

The entrepreneur still has to have the numbers and the proof of concept, but when you are set up to win—you’re running home from second base. Or you’re scoring tries against very few defenders.

(photo via thomas heylen)