Contacting Owners and First Meetings

How do you convince an owner to sell? Tips and tricks for contacting owners of privately held not-for-sale companies

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving here in the US and for many of us that means traveling to be with our families and friends. If you’re like most folks, there may be a few topics you steer clear of as you gather around the dinner table this Thursday. In the same way, when meeting with […]

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Sarah’s company had been speaking to the prospect for months and was almost ready to sign a letter of intent, when all of a sudden, the seller changed his mind and walked away from the deal. Sarah and her team were stunned and left asking, “What happened?” Unfortunately, deals do fall apart for a variety […]

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Growing by acquiring a competitor is a common tactic for companies looking to quickly grab market share through a consolidation. However, exploring an acquisition opportunity with a rival can be awkward as neither party wants to give the other a competitive advantage by sharing company secrets. Typically, a rival, especially in a not-for-sale situation will […]

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Despite your best efforts to convince an owner to sell, sometimes you will find that an owner of a not-for-sale company is just not ready to let go – even if he or she thinks partnering with your company is the right decision. In some cases, you will have to part ways and move on […]

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The short answer to this question is no. Some owners may sell to the highest bidder, but this is not always the case. Differentiating by price alone is problematic for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that someone can always outbid you. In addition, when it comes to privately-held transactions, especially, we find […]

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When speaking with an owner for the first time about acquisition, knowing what to say (and what not to say) can be tricky. It is even more challenging in the case of “not-for-sale” acquisitions because you will have to change the owner’s mindset. How do you begin the conversation? When do you address price? And how […]

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36 percent of middle market companies struggle to find the right partner when it comes to pursuing deals. Most acquirers begin their search by looking at a list of for-sale companies only to come away from the process empty-handed and disappointed. Many for-sale companies are on the chopping block for a reason. They may be […]

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“I’m not interested in selling my business right now.” “We already have a strategic plan in place.” “We are already talking to another buyer.” “Why should I listen to you? I get asked to sell all the time.” “I may sell in a few years when my company has a higher value.” “Who are you????” […]

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Owners are usually skeptical or defensive when asked about selling their “not-for-sale” company. In fact, many will hang up or refuse to consider your offer. If you do manage to break through and get the owner to agree to a first meeting, your job is to put them at ease, dissuade fears and communicate the […]

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“Why should I let you buy my company?” Chances are an owner will ask you this question during the course of your acquisition and you must have a convincing answer. While the strategic fit and benefits of an acquisition may be abundantly clear to you, an owner may not share your perspective. As a leader, […]

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For an owner of a privately-held company, the business is their baby and using hard-nosed tactics to negotiate for the lowest price is ill-advised. The human factor cannot be overlooked when pursuing M&A and establishing trust with an owner is critical. Buying a privately-held business is not like buying a car where you can negotiate the […]

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We recently had a situation where our client, the buyer, was pursuing the acquisition of one of their suppliers. The buyer expected the process to be relatively easy because he and the seller had known each other for years. However, when he tried to speak to the owner about possibly selling his company, he was […]

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When meeting an owner for the first time, your goal is not to instantly sign a deal. You first want to get to know them and make them feel comfortable about selling their business to you. In order to do this, there are some important questions to ask and subjects to broach, which I’ve covered […]

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When contacting an owner about acquisitions, don’t be surprised to hear “no.” Most owners, when asked about selling their “not-for-sale” business will automatically refuse simply because it’s unexpected. Remember, for an owner focused on running the day-to-day operations of his business, this offer is coming out of the blue. There are, of course, a number of […]

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Think about the last time that you met somebody for the first time: a coworker, a friend, a romantic interest, or even a new barista at the coffee shop. When you first met this person, whether you consciously thought about it or not, you formed an impression of them, even though you didn’t really know […]

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When you’re pursuing an acquisition, making meaningful connections with the right people at the right companies can be challenging. Who is the right person to contact? How can you go about contacting them? And once you do get in contact, what do you talk about to capture their interest? These questions are I frequently hear […]

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Time your negotiations by understanding owner psychology. Everyone wants to talk about price in mergers and acquisitions. It’s often the number one focus of buyers and sellers…but for opposite reasons. Both are likely to say they are looking for a “good deal,” but this can have a completely different meaning depending on the perspective. Buyers […]

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“I felt so vulnerable. I didn’t know what to do or what to talk about,” Dan told me. As the CEO of a food manufacturer who was pursuing acquisitions, he had a first meeting with an owner of a packaging facility before he engaged Capstone. When we met he expressed feelings of uncertainty and how […]

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How do you begin your courtship of a not-for-sale company? Sending a letter is fairly common practice for contacting owners, but it’s not the most effective way to communicate. A letter will not attract the owner’s attention and likely will go into the trash without being read. There’s a better way to stand out from the […]

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Successfully executing a deal can be tricky, even if you already know the acquisition prospect. In fact, your existing relationship may complicate the deal. Acquiring a company that you’ve worked with can make it difficult to objectively evaluate the opportunity. Bonnie Ciuffo, President of South Carolina Financial Solutions (SCFS), and John Dearing, Capstone Managing Director, […]

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