I recently helped negotiate an employment contract for a new hire at a portfolio company. It was clear from the very beginning that this new VP of Marketing was the right fit for the company and that the chemistry was there. Both sides were excited about moving forward until we got to the employment contract. In theory, we were in general agreement on salary range, bonus, etc. but what ended up scaring us was the fact that every issue, big or small, was negotiated to the nth degree. There was no give from the other side and when issues such as vacation days were hotly contested, I got quite concerned. In the end we passed on the candidate. We reasoned that if he was this difficult during a negotiation for his contract that he would be just as difficult to work with. I am not sure if he relied on his lawyer too much or if it was just his style, but either way negotiating every nickel and dime is not how to get deals done. I felt that the basic element of trust was never established in the negotiation.
My only words of wisdom for you is that In any negotiation, make sure you mark down your most important points and put them in a bucket. Place the less important deal points in another bucket. Try to put yourself in the company’s shoes to understand their major points as well. I encourage you to ask for everything but at the end of the day be smart about what you really want-try to win on the big points but don’t be afraid to give in on the small issues. At the end of the day, nickels and dimes do not add up.