Every phone call, every e-mail, every personal contact has the potential to maintain momentum, stall the deal or shut it down.
The message: a well-intentioned, casual conversation between buyer and seller should not be considered casual. A combination of words, expressions or the conveyance of a seemingly random thought can often introduce something new into the value equation, positively or negatively, favoring either the buyer or the seller.
Communicating during a negotiation can be like a competitive event. Someone, not necessarily everyone, will win.
Think of legendary college basketball coach and television analyst Al McGuire. Al had a way of communicating that was all Al. When a critical point in a game had passed and it became apparent which team would lose, Al’s famous quip was “They’re tap city.” And when a team was celebrating prematurely, Al was quick to say “it’s a little too early for seashells and balloons.”
Many of his casual expressions, though, were all but casual.
His words were constructed to evoke powerful visuals.
While it may be likely and it certainly seemed he was being spontaneous, my guess is he was very calculating. His mission was both to entertain and educate and his statements were often provocative as well as poignant.
For Al thoughtful preparation, insight and street sense were all key ingredients in communicating before, during and after the fact: when recruiting his best talent, in any game he was coaching or in any sporting event where he was commentating.
In the context of any merger or acquisition, allow time for planning and shaping each and every communication. You’ll have more sea shells and balloons than tap city or curtains.