RESOURCES


9 SURE FIRE INSIGHTS TO HELP SELL YOUR BUSINESS FOR THE BEST PRICE

Getting the right offer for your business requires excellent negotiating skills, a dash of psychology and let’s face it a good dose of luck. The price you eventually receive will be affected by scarcity, barriers to entry, market demand, emotion, vision and competitive tension. This is a potent mixture and the sell side objective must be to get the buyer to the point where it would be an unmitigated disaster to lose out on the opportunity to someone else.

A successful approach is to create a storyboard in four or five simple slides that depict how the business is positioned and where it’s going. This positioning is vital as it is then adopted by the buyer, who accepts it as their own truth. By giving the buyer your vision, they start to champion your sale, making it easier to achieve your price.

One of the first things to do though is to get any bad news on the table at the outset. Most businesses have a skeleton or two in the closet so if you’ve got a particular problem in your business, don’t hide it. Buyers don’t like surprises so put it out in the open along with your thoughts on how the issue can be addressed. You will not only impress your prospective buyer with your honesty, but also avoid any potentially damaging price chipping disclosures later on.

A good maxim is to “keep your powder dry” and don’t tell everybody all the good news immediately. Tell them as much of the bad news as you can. For example if your factory is ugly, and the buyer only sees it after an offer has been made, you’re liable to lose out on price. However, if you’ve told everybody the bad news up front, say by sending a video clip of it round as part of the information pack, then they can’t reduce the price for something they already know.

The best negotiating tactic of all though, is to trade well during the period of negotiations. A genuine and steep upsurge in revenues always has the effect of concentrating buyer’s minds. So when any offers first come in, you can wait a little while and then announce that “we’ve just won a new contract!” This of course gives you the hard evidence (and the moral high ground) to increase the price.

This is not to say you hide anything, just that you reveal a key strength as a tactic to negotiate the price up rather than giving the buyer ammunition to drive the price down (as is often the case) by trying to sweep any weaknesses under the carpet.

“It’s always better to reveal your flaws,” says James Caan, the well-known entrepreneur and CEO of the private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw. “Because they’ll come out during the due diligence process anyway and if they uncover them before you explain them, they’ll think you were trying to hide them.  It also allows you to have the conversation about the negative things on your terms.”

Revealing your weaknesses needn’t be negative. In many ways it can focus the buyer on the positive things that can be done to improve the business, creating an even bigger opportunity to add value. So don’t forget if everything in the garden is too rosy then how will the buyer be able to improve the business? It is a good tactic to leave something on the table for somebody else.

Here are then 9 quick ways to maximise your selling price:

Be flexible
Understand your buyer’s objectives and help the buyer visualise his or her goals.

Build empathy with the buyer
Tell them your vision and how they, rather than you, can achieve it. Change the focus so they become the champions of the deal, rather than you.

Maintain good relations
It stands to reason but don’t burn any bridges and fall out with the purchaser. Work on the relationship throughout the process.

Be open and transparent
Tell them the bad news and how it can be fixed. Don’t give them the chance to chip the price and let them make price-adjusting discoveries later on.

Use your adviser as your gladiator
When difficult issues come up use your advisors as the first line of attack – or even as a shield. You will probably have to work with your buyer, at least for a while.

Set your minimum price
Discuss your minimum price with your advisers, but make sure you both agree. There’s no point in wasting your or their time if price expectations are unlikely to be met.

Make sure your price allows for a win-win
The most important thing for both sides to understand is that there has to be something in it for the other party.

Focus on future value as well as existing value
The buyer will say I believe it’s worth this today, so persuade them to pay you some of tomorrow’s value too. You’ve got to see what you can negotiate.

Wait for the buyer’s offer
Don’t disclose your price and keep your powder dry. Ask the buyer to make an offer.

Create competitive tension
This is a killer point – if there’s interest from more than one party, the value will invariably be driven up.

Be flexible
Understand your buyer’s objectives and help the buyer visualise his or her goals.

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