The Story We Will Tell

Steps to Selling your Business Part 12.

So far in this series, we have looked in detail at the extensive preparation you must undertake with your M&A Advisors to get ready to sell your business. This is not easy work, and you may find yourself fatigued and tempted to rush things at this stage in the process. You may also find that some Advisors would be happy to hurry things along, eager to get to the handshakes and call the deal done, but we would advise against this.

There is much value in doing the preparation work fully and exhausting all questions before contacting prospective buyers.

We have good evidence of the benefits: Stillwater has a 95% closing rate when selling businesses such as yours. The industry average currently stands at about 40%. We can credit that success to several factors, including tens of thousands of hours doing exactly this, but we know that the diligence we pour into the preparation phase is pivotal to it all.

By the end of this initial phase of the sale process, you and your M&A Advisors must be familiar with every detail of your company. That issue is critical: how can your Advisors tell your company’s story to a buyer if they do not know it themselves?

Many clients have told us that they feel as if they are looking at their own company in an entirely new way at the end of the preparation phase. Your M&A Advisors are here to do the heavy lifting to help craft a narrative, but you are still the main player.

When you become reacquainted with your company’s story in such fine detail, you naturally tell it with a renewed perspective and passion that is attractive to potential buyers.

What does the finished product look like? When you are ready to tell the story, engage the market, and subsequently sell your business for the money it deserves, what you put in the hands of potential buyers is critically important.

At Stillwater, we frame the narrative and showcase your company’s data in two specific ways.

First, we design and construct a compelling Blind Profile – a teaser. It may look simple and straightforward at first glance, but with years of experience, our team has developed processes that calibrate the blind profile to get interested buyers looking at your company.

It really is a teaser: in a single page, we give enough information about your company to describe what it does and what makes it attractive, without allowing potential buyers to identify who you are.

A well-crafted blind profile will keep your sale plans private from the market at large while drawing in the right people who want to know more.

Interested parties then sign a confidentiality agreement. With your consent, they move into a process that will eventually give them access to the entire sale package and all the information it contains.

If the Blind Profile is the trailer, then the sale book is the feature film. All the extensive work we have done in the preparation phase is put on full display here.

The sale book is your complete story. It takes work, a lot of work – clear thinking, clear writing, strategic insights. If you have chosen your M&A Advisors well, the message is understandable, simple to read, and insightful. Done well, it is a high-powered tool.

A sale book has some bells and whistles: professional design and layout, persuasive language, a compelling story– all the marketing techniques necessary to stoke buyer interest. But a sales pitch with no substance means nothing; this is where all the diligence and patience you put into the preparation phase gets to work.

Behind the gloss, there is critical information organized and told compellingly. The value drivers and growth trends are there, showing the hard work and skill you have put into building your business. The risk factors and potential downsides are there too, presented honestly, even at the risk of impacting the final valuation. Remember, the sale book is a strategically crafted document; these negatives are highlighted in a way that recasts them in the light of potential and opportunity rather than as a bad omen against future profitability. A well-developed sale book lets you stay in charge of your own story.

Complete financial reports and analysis round out the sale book, giving potential buyers confidence that the story they are being told is true, with the numbers there to back up the claims we are making.

A diligent M&A Advisor will tell your complete story in a clear, concise, and digestible way; a great Advisor will take it one step further, customizing the value drivers in conversations with each prospective buyer to highlight opportunities that may resonate with them.

This brings us to an exciting part of the process that we will cover in some detail in the next post: who are your potential buyers, where do we find them, and how do we connect them with your company’s story, such that they feel compelled to make an offer?

The great M&A Advisors at Stillwater know how to find buyers and know how to bring them to the table. We’ll tell you about that next week.

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