Recently I was asked by a business owner how they could find out what their potential buyer’s hot buttons were. That got me thinking about how I would approach it. Having gone though the business sale process already successfully, Knowing what I know now, here are five things that you should try on your ‘target’ in order to glean what are likely to be those hot buttons. These suggestions are listed in no particular order and remember that the potential buyer that you have in mind may not realise that they are on yet!
- At your next industry event or exhibition, casually talk to a few of your target potential buyer colleagues. Take them away from their stand by suggesting that you both swap freebies (‘oh I’ve got one at my stand.’) or buy them a drink/snack, and after some small talk, find out what their perception of your business is.
- Plan and organise to meet up with the target potential buyer Managing Director over a nice lunch and talk about the weather, the industry as a whole, their plans, your plans, mutual acquaintances and companies. Mention three things that you love about their business and then ask what they love about yours — remember don’t take any offence if they can’t think of anything or say something negative. It’s all useful information as it gives you a little insight into their perception of you.
- Look at your target potential buyer’s filed financial accounts and pay special attention to the shareholding, commentary and notes in those accounts. If they are registered in the UK then this information is available at Companies House and it’s only £1 per document. If your target potential buyer is a publicly listed company, read their annual reports to find out what their strategy is and sometimes they even state if they are looking to acquire in order to grow!
- If you know the target potential buyer’s top 3 clients, ring those clients up and find out if they know about your business. In order to protect your identity. You could be calling on behalf of a market research company.
- Has your target potential buyer made any recent acquisitions? If so, find out who were the owners/business managers that sold and get in contact with them to find out why they were acquired and what hot buttons their business had. (This suggestion is similar to taking the MD out to a nice lunch).
Hopefully these suggestions get your creative thought processes going and you’ll come up with some more as I’m sure that there are more ways to discover your potential buyer’s hot buttons. What would you do?
Joanna Miller helps business owners navigate their way through the start to finish process of selling a business. Her specialty is helping owners understand how to prepare and make the most of their business sale process to maximise their company’s value. To understand how you can sell your business quickly for the highest sales price, purchase her book, “How To Sell A Business: The #1 guide to maximising your company value and achieving a quick business sale”