It is always important to try and put yourself “in the other person’s shoes.” This fact is of paramount importance when dealing with a prospective business buyer.
Thinking like a prospective buyer could, in fact, be the difference between selling your business and not selling your business.
Yes, it is important to continue to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes during the entire sales process.
It is easy to think that because everything is going smoothly with the sale of your business that the tough part is behind you. That may be true, but then again there could still be problems ahead.
Issues can come up at a moment’s notice when either your prospective buyer or his or her advisor raises a red flag. Additionally, the larger the business, the greater the complexity. This translates to the greater the risk of problems arising.
The “Little Things” that Could End Up Quite Big
Financial statements are of considerable importance. Quite often you’ll see contingencies regarding financial statements and/or business tax returns, so be ready and be organized. Lease issues is another common category for contingencies. Falling under the lease issue umbrella are topics such as whether or not the seller has agreed to stay on, or issues regarding the property or needs associated with the property if it is a rental.
Other common contingencies can include issues arising from equipment and fixtures that are being included with the sale. These are areas that could be easy to overlook, but they can serve to throw a major wrench into the workings of a deal.
The so-called “little things” can cause a deal to fall apart.
3 Key Steps for Preventing Disruptions from Contingencies
Step One – Create a Comprehensive List
One easy move you can make to prevent disruptions from contingencies is to make a list of all FF&E or furniture as well as fixtures, equipment or any other items that could be included with the sale. If an item is not included be sure to remove it entirely.
Likewise, if an item is inoperable then repair it ahead of time. Or at the bare minimum, you could make a list of items that are currently inoperable and include those items in your list. Remember, you don’t want a last-minute surprise or misunderstanding to jeopardize your sale.
Step Two – Check Your Leases
Problems with leases can send deals spiraling out of control. It is a prudent investment of your time to look at things like your leases. You’ll want to make certain that there are no issues that could be viewed as problematic.
If there are issues, then it is in the best interest of the deal that you disclose this information at the start of any deal. After all, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including your own.
Step Three – Predict Questions and Have Answers Ready
The time you invest in predicting potential questions and having the answers to those questions ready is time very well spent. You’ll look prepared and that helps build trust.
Be ready to answer questions that are likely to arise such as are you going to stay on with the business for a given period of time and what will be the cost, if any, of you doing so? What about employees staying on? Are there legal issues that should be considered? Being able to answer these kinds of questions is a prudent step.
Considering the needs of your prospective buyer will help you make a sale. In selling a business, there is no replacement for being organized and prepared.Read More
What are their needs and how best can you meet them? Understanding your buyer’s motivation increases the chances of a successful negotiation.
What Appeals to Most Buyers?
When it comes to selling a business, you likely will not know your buyer personally. This means that you will not know what they value most, how exacting their standards will be, and how easy or challenging they will be during negotiations. That’s why it is imperative to err on the side of caution and act in such a way that would appeal to most buyers.
Ensuring that your business is in strong financial health means that your business will be appealing to both a corporate executive as well as an individual buyer with a leadership/managerial background. Keep in mind that individuals who buy businesses will want a strong ROI, and often they will want the responsibilities that accompany that investment to not interfere too greatly with their current lifestyle.
Playing into Emotions
In general, buyers tend to be the most excited at the beginning of the sale process. It is at this point that you can expect your buyer’s passion to be its strongest. As a result, the first stages are when you want to keep your presentation and approach the most realistic. The reason is that once the surge of passion has worn off, your buyer may otherwise feel that you have tried to oversell your business.
Being Forthcoming with Information
It is quite common that you will not at first know if your buyer has previous experience in your market. As a result, you shouldn’t assume that they understand anything about your business or industry. In short, it is definitely in your best interest to be very honest about your business and what is involved in running it. If there are issues that they will invariably discover, then it is best to go ahead and disclose those issues early on as it establishes trust and goodwill.
Another area to consider is what a buyer may expect of you after the sale. A buyer who already possesses a background in your niche would already be very familiar with the ins and outs of your industry. Having you around after the sale may not be viewed as necessary or beneficial.
However, with that said, the exact opposite may also be true. You may be dealing with a buyer who is in dire need of your expertise. These factors could be of critical importance in what you offer your buyer in terms of your availability. Again, that’s why it’s best to not make assumptions and make sure your terms would appeal to a wide variety of backgrounds.
An Investment of Value
Invest the time to understanding your buyer’s motivation. The more you understand what it is that your buyer wants out of the transaction, the greater your chances of focusing on the areas of your business that best match those expectations.
When it comes to the motivations and concerns that prospective buyers may have, a business broker can add a new level of understanding. The value that your broker adds to the process of selling a business is difficult to overstate.Read More