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Mean ego? Feed it!

July 4, 2016

It happens. You step into the negotiation room and the beast emerges from the opposition. Immediately taking an fighting stance, launching into attacks on your position, and aggressively looking to change your mind through his assault, and overall just an ornery figure. Don’t buy it, don’t give an inch, just listen and understand what you are dealing with…. A mean ego. And yes, they absolutely can be defeated, often times easily. How you might ask?

Mean egos are hungry and you need to feed it! Hungry for recognition, praise, acknowledgement and ability to be right. Therefore all you need to do is give it some nourishment it seeks. Like a hungry and crying baby, the mean ego once fed, is a smiling pleasure to be with! Similarly mean ego can turn into a mush and become a huge asset in a deal.

Once upon a time we were selling a manufacturing company that was under-performing. Most of the business had gone overseas and the aging owners had a huge plant with very little profit to support a purchase by an individual. The cost of the real estate portion alone could not be supported by any deal structure. Therefore the deal needed a strategic purchaser that had similar production and one who needed the excess capacity that this seller and facility could support. Then the buyer’s current business and profits could afford buying the seller’s business and facility.

Dealing with an egomaniac?  Feed them!

Dealing with egomaniacs? Feed them!

After a long exhaustive search we found the perfect company and signed a letter of intent. But the seller’s much trusted adviser, who was just brought into the transaction, was incensed. He immediately questioned our ability to work on the transaction, the buyer’s qualifications to purchase, and was convinced that a better buyer was available from overseas. We were in trouble and the deal was in jeopardy of not ever happening.

After conferring with my team, we scheduled a lunch with the adviser. We told him we wanted to meet, not to discuss this transaction, but talk about how we could work together in the future as he was obviously a very skilled merger and acquisition adviser. It worked like charm. The lunch was very productive, he was able to express his concerns and it gave us time to feed his ego (and real hunger). He became our biggest advocate in the transaction, it closed, which was great for us and critical to our mutual clients as their ability to operate the business was sun setting quickly. Even better, that adviser has referred us more business since then!

So when you run into a mean ego. Feed it. You’ll be surprised by the results.

Andy Cagnetta owns and operates Transworld Business Advisors He joined the company as a sales associate and later purchased it. Transworld is an international franchise business and franchise brokerage, with thousands of businesses for sale and franchisees in the United States and Internationally.