If you work in a particular industry for any length of time, you will experience both the best and worst in people. This is especially true in a high-pressure buying and selling environment such as website brokerage. Selling an online business can be a very emotional experience.
Successful entrepreneurs have great qualities in common which set them apart from others. It helps them to close deals faster, be more likeable (which gets them a better deal in the end), and generally makes the whole business of buying a website a much less stressful experience.
Since we like to focus on the positive and the amazing at Quiet Light, I decided to ask the brokers – “what are the best qualities you like to see in a buyer?” I wanted to hear some feel-good stories!
Here are their replies, lightly edited for clarity.
Joe Valley – Being Likable, So The Seller Was Inclined To Grant a Favor
Not too long ago, we touched on why it is good business sense to be likable and courteous during a negotiation, instead of being rude and condescending. Joe has personal experience of this with one of his buyers and sellers.
“One of the smartest things I have ever seen a buyer do was be likable and then ask for the world when it came to his offer” said Joe. “most of the requests were denied, but one major one was accepted, which was to allocate 25% of the purchase price to consulting”.
Joe explained to me that this kind of request would normally be refused because of the effect it would have on the seller’s tax burden. But partly due to the seller’s unique tax situation, and the fact the buyer really made themselves likeable, the seller decided to do the buyer a huge favor.
“If the buyer was not likable and didn’t make a great impression on the seller, I am 100% confident the seller would have scoffed at the offer and said no” concluded Joe. “Selling a business is emotional, and approaching a seller with this knowledge will always help you get a better deal”.
Mark Daoust – Thanking a Seller For Selling Them The Business
When I asked Quiet Light’s CEO, he again touched on the issue of kindness and courtesy.
“In order to close the deal on acquiring a business, both the buyer and seller need to build a lot of trust and goodwill” said Mark. “There will be a lot of points throughout due diligence and closing where you and the seller do not see eye-to-eye initially”.
Mark then explained to me how the buyer saying “thank you for selling me your business” had such a powerful impact on the seller.
“First, he recognized this was an exchange of valuable assets” said Mark. “Too often buyers think they are doing a seller a favor by buying their business, and sellers often pick up on this attitude.
“Secondly, buyers often complain about a seller having ‘unreasonable expectations’. But a seller has no obligation to sell their business. By saying ‘thank you’, this buyer recognized there was a decision to let him buy this business”.
“Thirdly, he established himself as a nice guy. If you treat others fairly and with kindness, they’ll be more likely to reciprocate. But if you only try to look out for your own best interests, your seller will do that as well”.
Bryan O’Neil – Communicating Well & Being Respectful
By now I am starting to pick up on a common thread amongst the brokers. They all appreciate and like clients who are respectful and courteous, and Bryan is no exception. But there are other values he appreciates as well.
“There’s a few things that brokers and sellers dislike more than dealing with buyers who tend to “go missing” for long periods of time, only to then resurface with a few questions and go missing again” commented Bryan. “It’s super-important to stick to swift communications. In case you’re going on a vacation or need to take a few days to think things through, just send a quick note to the seller”.
In fact Mark Daoust covered this subject back in March 2016 about what a seller should do when a potential buyer goes quiet. It’s well worth a read.
This ties in well with what Bryan suggested next which was the respect factor.
“$500,000 may not be a very big amount of money to a seasoned investor looking to buy a business” said Bryan, “but it’s often a life-changing amount to the seller. Sellers are often also extremely committed to their business – often a business that they’ve put many years of their life into building it. So showing respect and trying to see things from the seller’s perspective goes a long way”.
To cap off, Bryan mentioned what he described as a worrying trend emerging in the industry.
“I understand and appreciate more than anyone that good acquisition opportunities tend to move extremely fast, putting a lot of pressure on buyers to move quickly” said Bryan, “but this is no excuse for putting in an offer just for the sake of it, and then only start to ask important questions”.
“Only put in an offer if you’re reasonably confident you’re going to follow through with the acquisition, and try to get as many of your pressing questions as possible answered BEFORE the due diligence phase.
Putting in an offer and later retracting it is a quick way to end up on a broker’s “black list”.Click to tweet
So from the replies seen in this article, the best qualities a buyer should have are :
- Be likable and approachable. Then a better deal is likely to come your way because the seller is more inclined to be flexible with someone they like.
- Be polite and courteous. Show the seller that you appreciate them selling you their business. Handing over something they have sweated blood over is no small thing, and saying “thank you” are two simple words which could change everything.
- Stay in constant touch and reply to phone calls and emails promptly.
- Respect the seller and don’t waste their time. Only make an offer on a business if you genuinely intend to follow through.
Life isn’t like the movies when the only way to get ahead in business is to play the tough macho businessman who likes to tear strips off people. Human beings respond on a basic level to simple kindness, and business is no exception.
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