As part of our job as business brokers, we cultivate long-term relationships with buyers and sellers. We do so with the latter because sometimes we plant the seed of possibly selling a company years and years before it may happen. With the former, it’s a question of earning trust by consistently bringing solid opportunities.
Sometimes on these calls or emails, we will get into a conversation with a seller who has tried to be his own broker in the past. And as such has (predictably) had bad experiences with looky-loos and tire kickers. “I’m only interested in serious buyers,” the seller will grimly state. “Call or email me when you get one.”
If only it were that easy.
The reality is that buyers are reasonably savvy about the acquisition process. They are going to want a fair amount of information about the business upfront. Furthermore, we as brokers want to exclude tire kickers from bothering our clients, so we ensure that they have the financial ability to close a transaction of the size they pursue. We aren’t interested in finding one serious buyer, but rather half a dozen or more.
Confidential Business Review
The process begins with a Confidential Business Review (CBR) that details business operations and historical financial information. This briefing allows buyers to quickly see whether a particular business suits their needs and if their transaction goals are in line with what the seller is offering.
Once a very simplified form of the CBR (brief description of the business, approximate revenues, net owner benefit, and asking price) has circulated among our internal buyers and the confidential marketing channels we use, we will get a number of interested parties who submit Non-Disclosure Agreements along with proof of financial fitness. For the sake of argument, let’s say that a given broker may reach out to 500 and get 50-75 interested parties for this first step.
NDA and Balance Sheets
Once we get their NDAs and balance sheets, we will then get them the CBR. From that step perhaps a dozen of the original 50-75 decide they want to go further and have a phone or in-person conversation with the seller. Of the dozen, perhaps half decide to visit the business in person and of those, perhaps three make bonafide offers.
See the difference? At each step of the way, we have continued to qualify the buyer both in terms of financial ability and knowledge of the business. And at the end, instead of “one buyer” we may have several, and these people have come to this step with serious knowledge about the business opportunity.
Save yourself from the tire kickers and leave the work (only a fraction of which is detailed above) to us. That leaves you free to run your business and keep it growing and profitable until you’re ready to pass it on to the buyer whose offer you ultimately accept — after a screening process that ensures it’ll be a serious offer.