Message control can be tricky during a process. Foundation Wellness CEO Sean Williams says that's why business leaders have to be careful with who they get involved in the process.
"You don't want this to be a distraction where everyone's talking about it every day," he says.
It's critical, he said during the Cleveland Smart Business Dealmakers Conference, to be overly prepared because it's a lot of work to go through a process. Business leaders should understand the work ahead and make sure they're firmly prepping to show off the business really well. That's easier for some companies than others.
"Ideally, a lot of these things are in place — your strategic plan, your building blocks," Williams says. "You're not doing that for the transaction. You're doing that because that's the way to run a business. So hopefully that's in place."
Closer to the process, he says its important that the presentation is as sound as possible, is strong and that it anticipates all the possible questions that will arise in the meeting.
"What we've done is we get people together that are going to be in the room and we rehearse," he says. "And it's so important when you're live next to those prospective buyers to show up, and they understand that you really know the business, because a lot of times they're buying you and not just the business. So, when you rehearse, when you're prepared, when you know your business inside and out, it just makes for much better interactions, and much more belief in what you're doing. So, I think that gets lost a little bit. It is a ton of work.
While it's prudent to get help from outside advisers, such as an investment bank, he says when choosing one it's important to research the expertise they have in your category.
"Do they understand your business so that when it comes to putting together the presentation, some of the heavy lifting can fall on them," Williams says. "When it comes to some of the questions that you'll get back and forth with, take a lot of time to process, can they help manage and mitigate some of that? So, making sure you have the partner that can really help because they understand your business is critical as well. But don't underestimate the amount of work and you can't really shortcut the work because doing it right will drive end-value."
Something to keep in mind during a transaction process is that it can be easy to tell when leadership teams don't have belief and conviction in the company and its post-transaction prospects, yet they're in the situation where they have to meet the goals they said are achievable. So, it's important to for leadership teams to believe that they can deliver on their projections and it's not just something that's made up to maximize the value.
Williams says in one transaction, he and his team had really strong plans to get a challenging business moving again. The ownership group believed in the plans, which weren't very aggressive but were reasonable and felt like something they could sell.
"The investment bank was challenging me on, Why can't we be more aggressive here? Why can't international be 50 percent more than what it is? And the conversations were because we just haven't proven that out and we've got to be able to be face-to-face and really show and drive the belief because we're going to get those questions," he says. "And I think having those real conversations where those people across a room can look at you and truly believe in what you're doing and also potentially see the upside is better than consistently talking about numbers that are really stretched to get to with building blocks that don't support. So It is a bit of a rub. There's a balance because you want to show the optimism and hope and you want to stretch it a little bit but getting to the place where it's tough to believe and tough to sell I think it hurts you."