Finding a buyer for your business is a lot like dating. Business owners are often so flattered to have an interested buyer that they forget to focus on ensuring that the buyer is the right buyer. Buyers are not scarce if you sell your business, and its story, in the right way.
Here’s what you need to do to create a competitive bidding environment that will help you achieve optimal results for the sale of your business:
Don’t Wait for a Buyer to Appear
If you are thinking about selling your business – you need to be proactive. Don’t wait for the right buyer to appear. Instead, do everything you can to attract buyers. The single most effective thing you can do is work with an experienced M&A advisor to help you with the whole process.
Talk to Several Buyers
Scarce products are valuable products. This means that creating a competitive bidding environment is one of the best things you can do to drive up the sale price. Continue talking to several purchasers, rather than shutting down the proactive search for a buyer the moment you get your first bite. An M&A firm has tremendous experience at creating these advantageous situations, so seeking their guidance is highly recommended.
Partner With an Experienced Business Broker.
A business broker is a true partner, who can improve outcomes at every stage of the deal. Your broker can mine their own contacts to help you find the right buyer. They’ll also help manage the buyer-seller relationship so you can maintain friendly relations even amid tough negotiations. Perhaps most importantly, they know what it takes to execute a successful deal. The buyer will likely have experts on their side. Level the playing field with your own expert team.
Tell a Story
Don’t just cobble together a brochure and hope for the best. Assemble a detailed marketing plan that tells a compelling story about your business. What will a buyer want to know? What will enable them to connect to your company? And are different types of buyers seeking different information? Tailor your approach to the type of buyer you hope to find.
Highlight Your Strengths
Just as you would sell a product, you must sell your company. Highlight its strengths, whether it’s a recurring stream of revenue, a product no one else can make, brand loyalty, or something else. Buyers are innately risk-averse. Help them see the benefits of investing in your company.
Don’t Lie About Your Business’s Weaknesses
While it’s important to tell a story that focuses on your company’s selling points, you must also be honest about its shortcomings. A buyer will uncover them anyway during due diligence. Don’t lie, don’t conceal liabilities, and don’t try to distract the buyer with marketing gimmicks. Being upfront about company weaknesses empowers you to frame them in a way that makes them seem less scary.
Know Your Company’s Ideal Buyer
Most sellers know exactly how much they want to get for their company. Few know which type of buyer will be best equipped to both see the value their company offers and pay the full asking price. Define the attributes of your ideal buyer so you know when you’ve found them.
Choose Advisors Who Cater to Your Needs, Not Theirs
If you want to reach the widest audience, you need a skilled advisor who has deep buyer relationships. You must also work with an advisor who has your own best interests at heart—not theirs. Some buyers try to use transactions to gain an advantage with other clients or to access special favors. Be mindful of these conflicts. Investment bankers with a limited geographic range, that only work with certain PE funds, or that need to sell a certain number of companies in a limited period of time are more likely to have conflicts of interest that undermine the sale.