3 Ways to Build Trust with Owners in Mergers & Acquisitions

“It’s the funny thing about all these deals, though. Yes, you can get a banker like Qatalyst [Partners] involved.  But a lot of it comes back to relationships.”

This comment comes from Brian O’Malley commenting on recent Airbnb – HotelTonight deal. A large part of why the deal came together was because of the relationship between Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky and HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank. 

We share this philosophy that most strategic acquisitions come together because of an alignment between buyer and seller. Many company owners of privately-held businesses have a personal connection to the business either as the founder or as a second or third generation owner of a family-owned business. Owners are not going to sell their life’s work to someone they distrust, no matter the dollar value.  

With that in mind, here are three tips for establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with a company owner throughout the acquisition process.  

  1. Research the company – Before contacting the owner about purchasing the company, thoroughly research the company so you can have a knowledgeable, tailored conversation. Owners, especially of exciting, profitable companies receive calls every day from private equity firms, investment bankers, and strategic acquirers looking to buy their company. Make sure you are not just another generic pitch which is easy to ignore. Spending the time to research the company shows the owner you care and are invested in their company in particular.
  2. Communicate a shared vision – Why should the owner sell to you? Uncovering the owner’s drivers and motivators can help you build a shared vision for the future, highlighting how the acquisition will help both organizations grow together while addressing issues that are important to the owner. For example, if preserving the family’s legacy is important, perhaps you will keep the brand name of the company while using your distributing network to boost sales and take the product national. 
  3. Listen – Nothing is a bigger turn off than someone who just won’t listen or thinks they know everything. Make sure to give the owner your undivided attention when speaking and to actively listen to their questions. Show interest in what they have to say both professional and personal and be sure to take their concerns seriously.  

Use these three tips to start building positive relationships with owner of acquisition prospects. Starting the process on a positive note and demonstrating respect will increase your chances for a successful deal.

Learn more about contacting owners in our upcoming webinar on April 11.

“The First Date”: Contacting Owners and Successful First Meetings

Date: Thursday, April 11

Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

CPE credit is available

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