Being Coachable

Steps to Selling your Business Part 26.

There is one thing we require of our seller clients during the week of management visits:

We ask them to be extremely coachable.

It can be demanding (and possibly a little humbling), but I believe being coachable is a necessary component of creating the best outcome as you sell your business.

As I’ve said, we schedule management meetings in a single marathon block of days so it’s easier for our clients to stay in a peak performance mindset over a concentrated timed run.

These meetings demand a high-caliber performance from you and your team.

Most of our clients are feeling their nerves in the first management meetings, no matter how experienced they are. This is them, in real-time, fielding questions, reading the room, adjusting to unexpected reactions from buyer candidates, and positioning their company in the best possible light.

I personally believe that it’s often counter-productive to view buyer candidates as adversaries in the process, however, you cannot entirely discount that perspective, either.

Clients and potential buyers maintain opposing definitions of “Best Price”. For the buyer, “Best Price” means “as low as possible”; for sellers, it means “as high as possible.” That fundamental difference makes it essential for M&A Advisors to be watching the other side of the table like a hawk throughout each visit.

At the end of day one, we hold a detailed, formal debrief of the first two meetings where we examine and analyze our client’s performance thus far. We start by telling them, “You must be ready to be the most actively, openly, aggressively coachable that you’ve ever been in your life.”

During the debrief, our job is to communicate our observations, along with providing practical suggestions about how they can improve their game over the remaining meetings. Their role is to be open, absorb the information, and prepare to implement every tactical change we suggest.

There is a long list of what we’re watching for on that first day of meetings.

Willingness to be coachable on the little things may have the most positive impact on the outcome of management visits.

We compile a list of the little details that impacted how our clients were perceived: when they stumbled over a particular list of talking points, a joke that fell flat, drawing a blank on a fundamental question. While we already stepped in to rectify the negative situations within those first meetings, we will now take a moment to strategize how to avoid them in the coming days.  

We gain valuable information on the overall effectiveness of the presentation from observing and analyzing the similar and dissimilar reactions of buyers from meeting to meeting. Did the closing summary get the same great reception at both day one meetings? Keep it in. Did the same misunderstanding pop up both times they covered the run rate analysis? We’ll discuss what needs to be adjusted to fix that. We have noticed tiny points in messaging that may not have landed as expected—and will invest valuable time during the debrief sorting out the cause before day two begins. 

We also review valuable intel we have gained in observing the buyers about the best approaches to take with any future discussions with them.

I should tell you that when you are selling, your team of Advisors should also spend as much time in the debrief highlighting your strengths as they do your weaknesses. Just as the weak spots need to be coached, your strengths and victories on day one need to be leveraged to do even more for you in the days ahead. At this point, engaged and coachable sellers will find themselves feeling validated and inspired by the debrief session.

Most importantly, you should dive into being coachable because this is one of the most exciting moments in the whole process. Excelling in a management meeting is a rush, and if you’re open to improving your performance day after day, you’ll find yourself riding that rush right to the last meeting.

And then, if you can swing it, at the end of the week of management visits, I advise you to take a day off and sleep in. You have earned it.

If you are planning to divest your business or have questions for one of our Advisors, please contact our team today.

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Written by: Douglas Nix