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Pacemakers In deal-making, the clock is mightier than even the pen.

By Marc Diener

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Superior deal-makers are always aware of their relative power atthe bargaining table. They know when they'll have the mostleverage and when they'll have the least. They'reconstantly on guard against the unexpected event (the entry of acompetitor, an approaching deadline, a tough break for theiradversary and so on) that shifts the advantage in their direction.That's how they arrange things so time is on their side.

By noting the rhythm of the other side's responses-by phone,fax, e-mail or in a meeting-you can gauge their enthusiasm, needand greed. If opponents pick up the pace, it usually meansthey're eager. Of course, the more they want it, the more theyhave to pay for it. If their responsiveness drops, you can assumethat their interest level has, too.

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