We love entrepreneurs, we’re entrepreneurs ourselves. It’s a tough club, and the personality required to be successful means business owners are tenacious, demanding and want things done their way and their way alone.
While that personality may be essential in the small business world, it can sometimes work against you when you are trying to work with a broker (or brokers) and buyers to sell your business. Here are some examples:
Sellers call us at 6 am and 10 pm on a weekend or a holiday. If they call during the work week and we are in another meeting or on the phone (essentially the only reasons why we wouldn’t answer a call), they continue to call back repeatedly and send a litany of text messages demanding an answer to why we didn’t pick up the phone.
When the first offers from buyers come in, sellers are immediately offended if the prospective buyer didn’t make an all-cash, full-price offer. They get completely annoyed when buyers have more questions or want to see additional documentation. They are furious if they don’t get immediate answers to counter-offers.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the intensity, and sellers who are serious about selling their business are great to work with. All we are getting at? Be a bit realistic.
You are (hopefully) not your broker’s only client.
A great broker shouldn’t have more listings than they could realistically handle, but that doesn’t mean they should only have one. Multiple listings are actually good for your business. How? Many buyers will call on one listing, thinking that business is the one they want – but after a short conversation we discover that the business that would fit their goals most completely is yours.
Your broker’s other clients include buyers, the people you are trying to find.
Your broker should be spending a good deal of their time working with buyers, as finding a buyer is the whole point of listing your business in the first place. If all they do is list your business and never talk to, answer emails from or call back buyers – then your business doesn’t have a realistic chance of selling. You should be very happy if your broker spends a good chunk of the day talking to buyers instead of constantly talking to you – it means a greater chance of finding the right buyer for you and your business.
Buyers are going to have questions – lots of them.
Any prospective buyer could be on the verge of writing you a very big check, and as such they are going to want complete and constant reassurance that your business is the right business to buy. Businesses are inherently complex, and anyone new to the negotiating table definitely won’t know your business as well as you do. The best way to keep a buyer interested and assured is by staying forthcoming with answers and promptly turning over requested documentation, even if you feel like their questions and requests are redundant.
Buyers are going to want to negotiate.
Yes, it does occasionally and miraculously happen that a seller gets a full-price, all-cash offer – but don’t count on it. Most sellers end up getting fairly close to their asking price in the end, but getting to that last number is a process. A buyer who initially offers what you consider low-ball number probably isn’t out to offend you, they are just trying to get the most out of their money. Consider any offer as a jumping off point for negotiations and you will be far better off than if you turn down anyone who doesn’t give you exactly what you want.
Selling your business is a very big deal, and you should be as passionate about the sale as you’ve been about your business from day one. Just remember that a business transaction takes a lot of moving parts, and most of those moving parts are people. Put your energy into being patient instead of putting your energy into fighting for everything to go your way (and your way alone) and you will have a far better chance of finding yourself at a closing table.
Are you a seller frustrated with buyers who seem to want too much information? Do you want to know more about how we, as brokers, typically spend our day? Ask us! Feel free to leave a comment or question here.
12995 South Cleveland Avenue, Suite 249
Fort Myers, FL 33907