How to Hold a Successful First Meeting in M&A

Chelsea Corporate are experts in facilitating the sales of businesses. With experience across a wide range of sectors, both in the UK and internationally, our team can help guide you through the process, from finding the right business to completing the purchase.

The process of buying and selling a business can be stressful, but a friendly rapport between both parties can help ease the process. That’s why it’s important to start the process off on the right foot, right from the initial meeting.

We’ve put together some tips to make sure your first meeting with the seller runs smoothly when you’re buying a business.

1. First impressions really do count

When meeting the seller of a business for the first time, start with a warm introduction. While you might be keen to get straight into business mode, creating that initial bit of rapport and friendliness is essential.

2. Information sharing should go both ways

While you’ll be looking to get as much information about the business from them, sharing your own story helps to build initial trust and starts the meeting off on the right note.

A seller wants to understand a little bit more about where you – a buyer interested in their business – is coming from. Sharing a bit of your background and how serious you are about acquiring the business can help establish good rapport and help them see how their business may fit with yours.

We’ve found a lot of value in explaining your background, your experience in the sector, what you have acquired in the past, and if so, what you may have purchased, etc.

3. Understand your seller

The seller will undoubtedly be attached to their company – they may have set it up 30 years ago and are approaching retirement age. They’ve put blood, sweat and tears into building the business to where it is today, so you should be aware that sellers may react emotionally.

It’s not just about understanding the business; it’s also understanding the person. This will help reassure them they can work with you going forward. So any trust you can build at the start is quite critical.

Let the seller know your intentions post-sale – are you looking to keep everything as it is? Do you want to build upon what the seller has already created? Again, you need to think about these things and ask the seller what’s important to them, rather than just focusing on the money aspect.

Make sure to consider what the sale impact might have on the business and its employees. For example, some sellers may consider the employees an extended family, making it crucial to show respect during the purchasing process.

4. Have an open and positive attitude

During any initial meetings, it’s vital to use positive language and be complimentary. If you have somebody else in the meeting with you, talk about how well the business has done over the years and what’s been achieved.

While it is important to point out areas you feel are a weakness or a potential risk, there is a right time and place to do that, preferably after the initial meeting.

If you are genuinely interested in the business, show them – but don’t be too enthusiastic and give away your hand too soon.

5. Ask the right questions

Your idea of the right price for the business can be influenced – just as much by your personal judgements – as it can by facts and figures.

Each buyer may have a different view on perceived risk, depending on who they are and what they already have in place. But, typically, the lower the risk you perceive, the higher you view the value of the business, making it crucial that you ask the right questions.

Ask questions about their current customers and vendors. Also, ask how long the business has been on the market. If it has been a few years, they may choose to accept a lower offer or be a little bit more flexible.

For more information on how to hold a successful M&A meeting, or any other advice on how to go about buying a business, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. You can reach our dedicated team today by calling +44 (0) 20 3011 1373 or, if you prefer, use our simple online contact form, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.