How to buy a business featuring Mori Taheripour

Do you worry about getting to the negotiation stage in buying a business and not knowing what to do?

Does it intimidate you to think about deal making when there are a lot of zero’s on the line?

Or are you excited but want to become an incredible negotiator and just want to optimize your skills?


We sat down with Mori Taheripour. She is the head negotiation professor at Wharton, a former negotiation expert with USAID in their sports development group, who has led negotiations around the world, taught more than 5,000 people from Chinese diplomats, to graduate students, and is called in regularly by Goldman Sachs, MBL, NBPA, NFL and Fortune 100 companies to think through complex deals and strategies.


Her full interview is located in our course in Unit 7 but we distilled some of our favorite takeaways for those of you looking to sharpen your negotiation blade.

They just may surprise you.

These aren’t your average tactics and strategies, which most people forget when they get in the negotiation, these are a complete mental mind flip.

The truth in negotiating with small businesses is you need to lead with three things.

Most people think those are usually:

  • your goals
  • your price
  • competitive intel and lots of hard charging.


You’re wrong.

The three things are actually empathy, curiosity and compassion.

Sound fluffy? It’s not.

Remember, this isn’t you negotiating for a rug or a house (honestly even if it was these would be useful), you are negotiating for a complex ownership takeover that will have repercussions for years depending on how you handle it.

You want a WIN-WIN.

What most people do wrong (we’ve done it before too), is lead with the price. Here’s what I’m willing to pay. Here’s what the value is. Here’s my deal.



Rule #1 Forget Price, Start with Why

Instead you should start with something completely different. Get to the why. Whether negotiating through a business broker or with a seller directly. Try to get on the phone or meet in person and say something like, “Before we even get to the price or the deal, I’d like to understand why you are selling. I’d like to understand what is important to you because I see us working together on this deal as the beginnings of a relationship and if I don’t understand what’s important to you, how can I be the one to continue your business forward?”

Then shut up.

Rule #2 Ask Questions – Don’t Tell Expectations

Think of every deal you negotiate as a fact finding mission. You are not looking at this as a transaction you are looking at this like a journalist trying to find out as much information as possible. You win even if you don’t get a deal because you get smarter and you get to understand sellers more. More at bats will equate to more wins and better deals. So stop focusing on the outcome you want and do this. Think about the owner like a friend. If a friend told you they were selling their business what would you first question be; For how much? No. It’d be wow really, why? You cannot get a negotiation done well if you don’t understand what is important to them.

Rule #3 Shut Up More than You Speak

I was on a negotiation call with another UA’er student helping him try to close a deal. He had missed quite a few opportunities and I wanted to understand why. So I said, “Let me just listen to how you do this.” I immediately understood the issue. He didn’t let the owner finish his sentences. He’d jump in thinking he understood what the owner wanted and end up tripping over himself because he didn’t in fact know where the owner was going and stuck his foot in his mouth a few times. This guy by the way has done dozens of deals before, very successful in his field just hadn’t negotiated one to one with an owner before. This is very common. So ask questions and then shut up.

Rule #4 Preparation is Critical

Negotiations are won and lost in your preparation. The part that Mori hit on perfectly, especially in her new bestelling book Bring Yourself, is most people prepare on the deal. They know the competition, the looked at the financials, they know the numbers. But they don’t know the people involved. When Mori goes into a negotiation she has created almost a dossier on each person involved. What do they care about? Who are they? What have they done in the past? Do they have a family? Are they local? What do they post about on social media? What are they going to do next? Prep on the people as much as you prep for the profits.



Can I just tell you how much solid gold this is?

People can teach you tactics all day but if instead you are simply curious, empathetic, compassionate and do your homework, you will be amazed at the deals you can close. This is when unfair advantages happen. Don’t let the narrative of aggressive negotiator fool you, nice guys in fact often finish first.

If you want to learn more, signup for our course here, or join our Mastermind to get access to Mori directly here!


Yours Unconventionally,

Codie Sanchez & Ryan Snow
Co-founders Unconventional Acquisitions

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