Transparency and communication are vitally important to a deal process. And equally important to a deal is someone to facilitate communication between buyers and sellers.
Speaking during the Detroit Dealmakers Conference, Andy Billman, managing director at Tri-W Group, says the sale of a business can be incredibly emotional for the seller, who is attached not just to the business, but to the people in it.
“Don’t run away from those emotions,” Billman says. “They’re real and palpable. When you get in those conversations with a group you’re considering selling your business to, being open and honest with what’s going on at the company is so important on both sides — both on the prospective buyer and the seller.”
Chris Meso, strategic business coach at T-Rex Advisory, says there’s definitely a buyer/seller dance to a transaction. Buyers, who have often been through multiple deals before, have a process to get through a transaction that has been honed over multiple deals. The entrepreneur, however, has likely never been through a process and often stumbles through many aspect of a deal.
“Having an incredibly talented investment banker, to us, it was eye-opening in terms of what we didn’t know about that process, what we needed to know about that process, and how (they) got us through that process successfully,” Meso says.
Once a deal moves beyond the LOI phase, there are lots of awkward questions to be answered about the business, all of which could create communication breakdowns. Professionals, says Billman, can help bridge these communication gaps to ensure the process continues to move forward and doesn't breakdown.
“It’s all about communication and trust,” Billman says. “I don’t mean to oversimplify this process. It’s not a simple process. It’s a very difficult process, an emotional process. But trust is built with communication.”
And that’s one of the crucial role of professionals — keeping the process going and helping the sides work through tough issues.
Jerrad Beauchamp, president and owner of Beauchamp Water Treatment Solutions, says entrepreneurs like to take everything across the finish line themselves, thinking they can handle any problem their business encounters. But with business owners often deeply engaged in their day-to-day business, shepherding a sale process can be too much. That’s why the introduction of professionals to the process is critically important.
“You have to be prepared,” Beauchamp says. “Once you get into the letter of intent, you don’t want to be holding people up.”
You can hear Meso, Beauchamp, Billman and Tom Zucker, president of EdgePoint Capital continue their discussion about the softer side of communications and internal preparations on the sell-side by watching the full panel discussion.