Opinion

Why meeting prospective buyers is a lot like dating

2 min read

19 February 2013

Rarely is it love at first sight but as we are all aware, first impressions do count.

These principles apply when “dating” your prospective buyer.

In a market full of wild enthusiasm to do a transaction but, sadly, few buyers with cash, any date you get needs to be handled with care.

Yesterday saw me in what can only be described as my dream date. Here is what happened:

The meeting had been pre-confirmed by both sides the day before – a simple courtesy but great first start.

The vendor arrived early allowing us to update the briefing, check the presentation with the client and get all parties feeling comfortable with the room layout and paperwork.

The prospective buyer brought one other person, in this case his FD, to balance the numbers. The prospective buyers had also taken the trouble to prepare an easy to read presentation of their business – not death by power point but enough to engage.

We also prepared a salient and critical update on the business being sold. Both parties did a very simple presentation. Everyone was honest, straight forward and above all else, didn’t b*llsh*t.

All antler waving was put aside and no one tried to point score. At the end of the meeting the parties agreed the next clear steps which, incidentally, were all followed up promptly the next day.

This may or may not result in a successful marriage but whatever happens, no one felt they had wasted their time. Custer’s last stand rarely works but in the twenty tens, just don’t go there!

Jo Haigh is head of FDS corporate finance services and the author of ‘The Financial Times Guide to Finance for Non Financial Managers.’