No one wants to waste their time and energy trying to sell their business to someone who isn’t actually planning to buy. That’s why it’s so important for you and your business broker or M&A advisor to focus on the most qualified and serious buyers. But how can you really make these kinds of assessments about a buyer’s viability until they sign on the dotted line? Let’s take a look at some signs that will help you figure out your buyer well in advance.
Do they have a history of ownership?
When someone has owned a business in the past, they have a firm understanding of what is involved. As a result, they are more likely to be a serious buyer. It also means they are more likely to move forward. You will also find that they have the ability to make a substantial down payment and financing options. While they might want you to help them with financing, you should still be looking to ensure they will put their own capital at risk as well.
Are they seeking information about your cash flow?
If a buyer is serious, it goes without saying that they will want to make sure the business is profitable. They should be asking a lot of questions about not only your cash flow, but also your inventory. If you have unusable inventory this could be of concern to a buyer. Be sure to disclose this information upfront, as it will likely be discovered in the due diligence process regardless.
Are they asking about the health of your staff?
Any real buyer would want a dedicated and reliable staff. If your buyer is asking about salaries, it is a good sign that they are serious. After all, if you’re only paying minimum wage, chances are that your staff will not have a lot of staying power. These days, many companies are suffering due to staffing issues, and it’s something that should be front and center in any serious buyer’s mind.
Do they have an interest in the industry?
If your prospective buyer is asking questions about the industry, that is another good sign. After all, who would really want to buy a business without detailed knowledge about the industry they are about to enter? Along the same lines, if you know your buyer has experience in a given industry, it means they are more likely to go through with a purchase. If they lack experience in your industry, do they at least seem passionate about the industry? If they seem like they are not asking probing questions, this might mean they are wasting your time.
Are they asking about capital expenditures?
Your prospective buyer will want to know how money is being spent. You can expect them to make sure that major expenses have already been paid for as they will want to make sure they won’t be caught off guard by large pending purchases.
Do you have professional assistance?
The bottom line is that the more in-depth questions a person is asking, the more serious they are likely to be. Your business broker’s job is to screen prospective buyers. Years of experience doing so helps them know the warning signs that pop up when buyers profess to be interested, but are not likely to go through with the sale.
When you are trying to sell your business, it is critical that you focus your time wisely. Your brokerage professional will help ensure that you do not waste time working with people who are just kicking the tires.