Insights

How Not to Derail a Management Visit

Steps to Selling your Business Part 25.

Sellers can, at times, inadvertently sabotage their own progress during a management visit. Our team is skilled at managing any problems that may arise and work diligently to ensure our clients are successful. Below I outline four common missteps and how Advisors at Stillwater manage these. 

MISSTEP ONE: ANSWERING A DIFFERENT QUESTION THAN THE ONE ASKED.

This comes at the top of the list because it happens all the time. We’ve all been in meetings that devolve into confusion because of it. It’s even easier to slip up in this way in the pressurized atmosphere of the management visit.

You might mishear the question, nerves might get the better of you, or the prospective buyer might word the question poorly. Somehow, it goes wrong. Answering a question that you weren’t asked will, at the very least, waste everyone’s time and cause confusion. At worst, it could damage your credibility in front of a candidate you want to impress.

The Fix:

This is the reason I hire only gifted listeners at Stillwater. Your Advisors are there to stay just outside the conversation and listen. When your answer starts to wander, they catch it and quickly steer all parties back to the fundamental question before any damage is done.

MISSTEP TWO: GIVING YOUR BUYER INACCURATE INFORMATION.

No matter how prepared you are for the management visit, it is easy to make mistakes when all eyes are focused on you. You may accidentally provide inaccurate information to your counterparty; providing the wrong number or year or, you point to a minus on a chart when you were aiming for the plus sign. Left unchecked, a minor error could cause big problems later on.

The Fix:

Again, we are there, observing and listening carefully to the conversation. We are quick to catch the error in the moment and are prepared with the correct information, ready to replace it.

MISSTEP THREE: GIVING AWAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

Midway through the Market Outreach stage, we are at a sensitive juncture in terms of privacy. All potential buyers are under binding non-disclosure agreements; however, plenty of information about you and your company still needs to be protected from public knowledge. Your privacy remains a high priority.

At a management visit, a candidate may begin a line of questioning that seems relevant enough initially but gradually begins to pry into areas it should not. 

The questioner’s motivation could be genuinely innocent, or they may be naturally nosy. Sometimes though, they may be angling to gain some valuable intel from you. Whatever their intent, it is easy to be caught up in the flow of the conversation and give away more than you intended. This must not happen.

The Fix:

This is a situation where a hands-off approach will not be enough. We intervene directly to safeguard your privacy. We start with a soft, friendly redirect to steer the conversation back to safer topics.

Most often, that will be enough, and the discussion will resume along the right lines. If the prying persists, we intervene even more directly. It’s always best to remain nice in these situations, at least until it’s time not to be. Either way, your privacy is vastly more important to us than their curiosity. There will be no prying.

MISSTEP FOUR: SELLING YOURSELF SHORT.

I’ve said it before–I hate to see people rob themselves. I believe that’s what you do when you undervalue your own business. Don’t begin these conversations with potential buyers by selling yourself short.

Don’t come in cocky – arrogance is a quick and sure way to destroy trust. But the opposite can do just as much harm. During a management visit, you need to be confident–no false humility or a sense that you don’t deserve a seat at the table. 

These meetings can be nerve-wracking, and your confidence can take a hit while you’re being scrutinized and judged from across the table. Now is the time to keep hold of your sense of your worth. At a management visit, you are setting the tone for every conversation with the potential buyers as we advance. The outcome of these conversations will directly affect your bank account. You must walk in strong.

That’s the fix. We prepare you, coach you, and help you keep the success you’ve built in focus during these meetings to ensure you shine in front of buyers.

Make Stillwater your partner in this. I mean this sincerely: honoring and respecting you and your business is an explicit core value of this company. I’ve worked to build a legacy of integrity here – we treat the people we work for with the respect they deserve. Working with Stillwater is a sure way to avoid selling yourself short: we just won’t let it happen.


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

←Blog 24

Written by: Douglas Nix