Best known for his role as a ‘Dragon’ on the BBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den, Tej shared his top tips and advice on negotiating, from sealing big deals to winning investment and more. Over the years, Tej has become a master of negotiation; wrapping up several impressive deals both inside and outside of the Den. Understanding who you’re negotiating with, what they need and what value you can offer to them is the most important aspects of the art of negotiation, according to entrepreneur and Dragon, Tej Lalvani.
Tej is the founder of Vitabiotics, the family business started by his scientist father. Tej has turned over £300 million for Vitabiotics annually and is renowned for producing many of the UK’s number one selling vitamins including Wellwoman, Perfectil and Pregnacare. The company has won various awards, including Boots’ Supplier of the Year and the Queen’s Award for Innovation.
Speaking during a live-stream webinar with the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, the Vitabiotics CEO said failing to understand what the other party is looking for is the most common mistake he sees in the business world, but stressed that it is the key to securing a deal. Tej discussed the tell-tale signs that indicate it’s time to end negotiations, as people are often too determined to make a deal. He explained that one side goes very low and the other goes very high, it’s highly unlikely that either side will come away happy even if they do manage to meet in the middle.
“It’s about how you build a rapport with that person. People like to do business with the people they like.”
Tej talked about styles, he stated,
“I use a bag of what I’ve got. If you look at Dragon’s Den. You got an entrepreneur coming in there. It’s important to understand what’s important to them. (…) If you can understand that first hand, then when you’re competing with a deal with the other dragons, you’ll realise money is not always the most important thing.”
Tej placed emphasis on self-awareness. In other words, once you find out what the other party wants, that’s when you can find your strengths and your value within the entrepreneurial world. It’s down to self-belief and mindset - being confident in what you want from the negotiations, the value you can bring to the table and your so-called red lines.
“What’s important is to understand what value you can offer that is different to what the other parties can offer. That’s what you got to highlight in negations where other parties are involved”.
He talked about how sometimes a good business sense is knowing when the best time to negotiate is. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to negotiate at all. Additionally, styles depend on the country you are negotiating in. “You got to do your research” - how hard you negotiate, what method will you use, and whether negotiation is even a good idea completely depends on the culture you are in.
The entrepreneur also explored the value of a network in learning about and understanding your counterpart when heading into negotiations.
You can watch a replay of the full webinar and register for future sessions here.