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The 7 Deadly Sins of Merger and Acquisition Negotiations and How to Stop Them

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

The saying is true. The devil is often in the details.

In business, mergers and acquisitions usually arise out of necessity or to pursue a particular goal. While these odds may seem exciting at first, the reality is that they involve intense negotiations, and often feel more like a game of chess. Once mental warfare begins, navigating the crossroads where personalities, power plays and business nuances collide can become all-consuming.

For those who haven’t experienced an experience like this before, getting caught up in subterfuge can be a distraction at best. It is important to remember that putting your goals at the center of every step you take during these negotiations is paramount in order to maintain your lead and negotiate effectively.

Related: Things You Should Know About Mergers & Acquisitions

For those who have been through a merger or acquisition process, it’s safe to say you’ve learned a thing or two. While negotiating each deal comes with its unique set of parameters, seven common deal killers sneak in at different stages of the conversation. While human nature is inevitable, experience shows that it can be tamed.

Here are the seven sins of merger and acquisition negotiations:


Nothing will kill a deal faster than ego. Period of time. While it’s rare to come across a negotiation where the ego doesn’t rear its ugly head, you need to know when to step back to simmer your ego or give your opponent a breather. Entrepreneurs often enjoy the art of the deal, but it can quickly turn into a duel to the death if one party to the negotiation feels their pride has been violated.

Remember that when parties enter into this kind of conversation, the built entities or the developed proprietary approaches are often the life’s work of one or more people at the table. So when discussing finances, the terms of the deal, or a change in leadership, it can of course be easy to insult one’s ego.

Related: 11 Fears Every australiabusinessblog.com Should Overcome


Mergers and acquisitions rarely make it to the finish line if the deal feels too one-sided. If both sides are unwilling to give up anything, the deal could be lost in an endless power struggle. Both parties need to know their non-negotiable business before entering into negotiations. Entering into a negotiation knowing what you are — and not — willing to compromise makes makes dollars and makes sense. It also serves as a guardrail for the conversations that can get heated and emotional. Clarity about non-negotiable matters makes all the difference to being able to quickly recognize when a deal has reached an impasse.


Anger only adds fuel to the fire. When negotiations get heated (and even the best of them do), it’s best to take some space to get centered again before responding. While this may seem passive, savvy negotiators know that responding with a clear head and a well-thought-out response is the fastest way to resolve the current bottleneck.

Related: How to turn anger into constructive action?


An australiabusinessblog.com can smell jealousy from miles away. If you start a negotiation and envy or jealousy is a driving force, be prepared for a negotiation that ends nowhere. Envy does not breed success because the focus is too much on what the other party has. By focusing on your assets and value in a successful negotiation, you can remain steadfast in your negotiating position. By letting envy lead you, you give away your power.


Desire can be like a runaway driver of the deal. There’s a difference between knowing your goal and maneuvering around your non-negotiable business to achieve it and throwing all common sense to the wind in a hasty pursuit to make the deal work. Step back and consider what you really want: is this negotiation focused on financial gain or dominant market share? Is this deal about preserving a legacy or achieving a different quality of life? What is your main motivating factor? Keep your motivating factor in mind every step of the way, remembering that making a deal to “close the deal” is for amateurs, not disruptors or innovators.


It is often said: “pigs get fat, pigs are slaughtered.” There are two main factors to consider: the financials and the terms. In general it is a matter of distance to get both exactly as each side would like them to be. While it’s not impossible to get there, it’s highly unlikely. So you need to know which of these two points you would be willing to bend a little more on as the negotiations progress and you are in a position where you can move forward, either the funds or the terms of the deal need to be a bit.


Negotiation is an active practice. There’s a difference between creating some space before responding to a heated point in the conversation and being missing for an extended period of time. Respect is essential to ensure that all parties feel valued, especially during detailed discussions about finances and a change in ownership or leadership. Everyone’s time is precious and everyone sitting at the table should actively support the process of pursuing the common goal.

As with all things in life, every beginning comes with a future end. No matter what stage you are at in your business, being prepared for its evolution is a necessary part of the journey. After all, life is not a dress rehearsal, so every day you invest in yourself and others as an australiabusinessblog.com and australiabusinessblog.com counts.

Related: Successful M&A Strategies for Startups


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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