Selling a business | 4 min read
When selling your business, it’s easy to focus on what you need – a serious buyer who will care for your business and nurture it like you’ve done. But have you ever stopped to consider what your buyers need from you?
Most buyers are not interested in the material value of your business alone – they’re pursuing a bigger dream of independence, success and a more secure financial future. There’s a lot at stake, and they’re going to evaluate every opportunity carefully. It’s down to you to convince them that buying your business is a solid decision they won’t regret.
Why it’s so important to build trust
Successful sales are all about relationships, and the foundation of any good relationship is trust. Just like you want the best possible buyer for your business, your buyers want to feel like they’re buying from a quality seller who they can trust. If you come across as honest, professional and efficient you can put their fears at ease and increase the chances of making that successful sale.
Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes – would you want to buy a business from someone who seemed disorganised, unprofessional or dishonest? What assumptions would you make about how their business has been run? Buyers are evaluating you from the very first moment they see your business listing, so make sure you’re creating the right impression – one that will fill them with confidence and certainty.
To show you what that looks like, we’ve put together a list of five things you can do that will help potential buyers feel reassured, comfortable and keen to do business with you.
- Be responsive – even if you’re not interested in pursuing the opportunity, let them know as soon as possible. Word spreads, and you never know who your potential buyer is talking to. If you are interested, a quick response signals that you’re serious, and can help move things forward faster – before your buyer loses interest or changes their mind.
- Be human – many Australians would love to own a business but not many actually have the courage to actually do it. It’s a big step for buyers to reach out and genuine buyers want to connect with a human at the other end of the line/email. Sure, if you choose to send an auto reply with an NDA, do so, but add a personal touch in your message to communicate your reasoning. Also, don’t expect buyers to respond with a long list of responses to your questions if you haven’t yet had a real conversation.
- Be prepared – have all the necessary documentation ready to send, including financials, history, suppliers, stock levels, customer numbers and assets. A serious buyer will want to have as many details as possible, and if there are any gaps, they might get the impression you’re trying to hide something.
- Be honest – it might be tempting to fudge your numbers, especially when it comes to how many hours you work in the business. Savvy buyers know what to look for and if the percentage of profits to wages doesn’t look right, or there are other discrepancies in your financials, they’re likely to walk away.
- Be enthusiastic – think about what you love about your business and put it in your advertisement. Does it come with a great lifestyle, the opportunity to pursue a hobby or passion? Or does it run itself so the owner can enjoy a passive income stream? Mention it when you speak to them on the phone. If you’re enthusiastic about your business, your buyers are more likely to get excited too. Most buyers will be assessing multiple businesses, so you want to stand out. By mentioning what is unique about your business, you can more easily differentiate your business from your competition
- Be informed – have all the information on hand to answer their questions. Buyers will want to know how the business was valued, the number of employees, what the business turnover is and the terms of the sale. If you don’t have all this information on the top of your head, tape a list by your computer so you can refer to it during phone calls or when writing emails.
You’ve spent a long time building your business – you want the next person who takes over to nurture it and love it as much as you. Give buyers what they need, make them feel reassured that they’re making the right choice, and you’ll be more likely to make a successful sale.