Why did this CEO break the #1 negotiating rule?

I was always taught to avoid “speaking first” when negotiating.

Let the other side give a number.

Aaron Bird, the former CEO at Bizible, broke this rule in the long and winding process getting acquired by Marketo.


“I was optimizing for two things, neither of which was selling the company [right away]. I was optimizing first for minimal distraction. […] And the second thing was the relationship. So if we don’t sell, I want the relationship to be as good as it was yesterday.” said Aaron.

What happened next?

Marketo/Vista said “no” at that point. Aaron didn’t waste time and he kept building the relationship.

Then it ended up paying off. Over a year later, they came back to the table. This time a deal came together quickly because of the relationship. Marketo bought Bizible. Then 6 months later Adobe bought Marketo in a $4.7B megadeal. 🤯

Aaron went inside the deal process ~19 minutes into this podcast.

P.S. Aaron’s favorite book is The Fifth Disclipline. He says it changed the way he thinks.