Selling Your Business? Why an Exclusive Engagement Agreement Is Essential

agreementAre you looking to sell your business but hesitating to sign an agreement with a business broker?

Thinking about sharing your business opportunity with multiple brokers?

If so, you may want to hear our perspective about the value of an exclusive engagement agreement.

You want your broker to work hard for you.
If you try to sell your business through multiple brokers, how much effort can you expect?

Why would a broker put great effort and investment into preparing a marketing package and expending resources on your deal when he stands a good chance of losing it to another broker?

You want to protect your confidentiality.
Asking multiple brokers to work on your sale almost guarantees a breach of information about the particulars of your business.

Because there’s no commitment on the part of the seller, the brokers may become more flexible about the information they’re willing to share. The brokers will be talking to the same set of potential buyers, and they may be more interested in satisfying the needs of the buyer rather than the seller.

You’d like to maintain the value of your business.
Having multiple brokers working on your behalf with the same buyers could signify some desperation or lack of motivation. In either case, the buyers will not perceive it positively and will most likely show a reluctance to engage.

If someone saw the same business on the web from three different advisors or received direct calls from them, they would be really curious about the circumstances and would probably approach the opportunity with much more skepticism.

You want a broker with experience.
Ask yourself why a broker may be willing to work without an exclusive agreement. Could it be inexperience, a poor record or desperation for business?

An exclusive engagement agreement protects both the buyer and the seller. It sets expectations and establishes a mutually beneficial relationship. Our agreements typically cover one year because the average time to sell a business is around nine months.

Your broker will invest a lot in helping you sell – from assisting you with positioning/marketing your business and finding potential buyers, to qualifying them, helping you negotiate the deal, and working with bankers, accountants and attorneys to get the deal to closing.

To ensure you’ve chosen the right broker before signing an exclusive agreement:

  • Do your research. Look at the broker’s current listings, past activity and testimonials from happy buyers and sellers. Ask for references from accountants, lawyers and other professionals with whom they’ve worked.
  • Agree on the services your broker will provide and clarify your expectations about regular progress reports – by email, phone or in-person meetings.
  • Be patient. But if you’re not seeing the effort you expect, speak up early! Open and honest communication is always best.

If you haven’t met a single qualified buyer after a few months, you’ll want to regroup. Reassess the pricing, look at feedback from potential buyers and discuss adjustments with your broker. When you’ve established a trusting, clear agreement at the start, these conversations should be comfortable for both you and your broker.

If you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling a business, please call us at 913-383-2671 or contact one of our Apex Business Advisors today!