If you are asking yourself this question, more and more as the weeks go by, you’re not alone. We come across plenty of business owners who have been trying to sell their company and are becoming disheartened. Many have been working with the same broker, to no avail, for years.
Maybe your broker is doing a good job and it’s just taking longer than you hoped, perhaps you feel they have lost focus, energy or you just regret engaging them in the first place. We can also understand your reluctance to change too. You may have developed a relationship with your adviser and invested much time and effort into the project. That said, a fresh pair of eyes and a new marketing initiative could be just what is needed to get your sale back on track and achieve your goal of a successful exit. Changing or upgrading your business sale adviser could not only reinvigorate your exit ambitions, but also provide a much needed refocus in terms of research and finding new prospective buyers.
So here’s the question. How do you know when it’s time to change broker? Here are a few suggestions if you’re starting to feel like your business sale just isn’t meant to be:
Get Excited About The Process Again
When your business has been on the market for a while and you don’t feel like you’ve got as much interest as expected, it’s very easy to become jaded by the process.
There are many reasons why interest levels might be lower than anticipated. It’s crucial that you feel able to have open and honest conversations with your broker/deal leader. Fully understand the market and the processes being followed to generate new interest, do they remain actively marketing your business or have they just run out of ideas? Ask for a project review, this should give you an understanding of their ongoing plan and whether to stick with your current adviser; be prepared to cut your losses and try someone else, if you are not convinced – don’t continue to ‘flog a dead horse’.
A well-structured and proven broker process will source and nurture any potential acquirers, a new start should give you confidence that the right deal can be achieved. When you’re confident that your adviser is providing the appropriate focus and hard work, you’ll be amazed by how much this can re-ignite your confidence that a successful sale is possible.
Know Who You’re Working With
If you engaged a larger firm or broker, the person who you originally met and perhaps the person who valued your business may not be involved in trying to secure your sale. If you’re currently working with a larger, high-volume, business brokerage, the likelihood is you’ll have never met the person tasked with finding buyers and negotiating the sale on your behalf, this could be the problem.
Remember, the experience of your actual dealmaker makes the difference between a successful sale and no sale. It’s important to understand the individual background and level of expertise of the adviser acting for you, not the firm only. To help you understand your advisers credentials and ability, ask them the following questions:
– How long have they worked in M&A and at what level?
– How many completed deals have they personally acted on?
– What is their experience of successful sales or similar businesses?
– How many instructions do they manage at any given time?
– From their experience, how does the current valuation of the business fit with today’s market?
If the answers to these questions are unsatisfactory, seem sketchy, or you come away not entirely convinced they have your best interests at heart, the time has come for you to take your business elsewhere.
The ability of your adviser to identify both soft and hard deal synergies between buyer and seller, create competitive buyer tension and be able to present your business to a target acquirer in a dynamic and professional manner, is a skill your agent must have if you want a successful exit. Engaging a broker / deal maker with a strong entrepreneurial background, who is able to present the strategic benefits for the acquisition of your business will make a positive difference to your business sale.
Don’t Be Afraid To Start Over
Like any relationship, if it’s not working, sadly, it’s not working. There would need to be fundamental changes to get things back on track. When dealing with a large or high-volume broker, changes are usually difficult for them to implement quickly or effectively.
A boutique firm, that prioritises quality of its instructions over the quantity, could be a better solution for you. They’re usually owner-managed too, meaning you can tap into some serious commercial expertise from someone who’s been there and done it themselves. You’ll be able to take advantage of a brand-new network of motivated, well-vetted, buyers, investors or merger partners. They’ll also help you re-energise the whole sales and marketing process. This could be just the thing your business needs to get your perfect deal across the line in 2022 /23.
Nobody likes to admit they’ve made a mistake, however when it comes to something as life changing as selling your company, moving on to a new broker might be the shrewdest business decision you make all year.