Insights

Trust is Everything

Steps to Selling your Business Part 19.

Trust underpins the entire process of selling your business. Finding buyers that you can trust is our job as your Advisor; however, the buyer must trust both you and your Advisors as well. 

On the subject of trust, we have two responsibilities:

   1: We must communicate trustworthiness to our prospective buyers.

   2: We must be trustworthy.

There are several ways to communicate a strong sense of trustworthiness to your potential buyers.

1. Don’t Display Poor Workmanship and a Lack of Professionalism. 

Your business is a showcase of your work. Everything that a potential buyer sees or hears about you from your Advisors should reflect that. 

This means taking care of details: sales materials – perfect; knowledge of your company – impeccable; calls returned – promptly; questions anticipated and answered.

2. Don’t Be Evasive or Fail to Disclose Details.

One sure way to lose a buyer’s trust is to give them incomplete data or vague answers, or even worse, to get caught purposely withholding information that could paint your business in a negative light. 

When we are confident that we’ve mastered how to present your value and risk factors to potential buyers, there’s no reason to withhold it. A high level of transparency builds trust; any suggestion of deception or evasion will erode it.

3. Don’t Delay or Deliberate. 

This is about the fine art of timing. Appearing hurried or hasty in early communications looks untrustworthy; making unrealistic demands on your prospective buyer’s time does, too. On the other hand, moving at a snail’s pace will damage your credibility.

You need experienced M&A Advisors to guide you through this part of the process. It is our job to set the pace for discussion, one that is in the sweet spot between haste and delay.

4. Don’t Be Arrogant

I’m not talking about confidence or even a bit of cockiness–I mean absolute arrogance, a view of one’s place in the world that allows one to treat other people as things. You can correct everything else I’ve listed above. However, the perception of arrogance is never received well.

I know of no other way to burn and destroy a buyer’s trust in a seller more quickly and thoroughly than arrogance.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen anxiety, anger, fear, or fatigue show as arrogance. This is where preparation, coaching, and rest come to the forefront in selling a business.

We believe that a gentle answer turns away wrath, that it is to a person’s great benefit to overlook an offense. We do our best to protect our clients from arrogant buyers and from projecting arrogance themselves.

You see, we don’t tolerate arrogance in the halls at Stillwater. Character is a matter of grave personal importance to me, and it’s something I look for in the people I work with. I don’t let our teams forget the essential humanity of everyone involved in the process; a buyer is not a mark to be duped or exploited – treat them as such, and you’ll lose their trust. 

Good character builds trust. It’s been of great interest to me to repeatedly see that good character is an excellent way to run a successful business; it’s a great way to sell one, too.


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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