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How to Identify and reach the Perfect Buyer when Selling your Business

The first step in reaching and identifying the perfect buyer is to create a Marketing and Advertising Plan where you identify and approach the types of buyers who may be interested in your business.

identify and reach target when selling business

Some of these may include: 

  • Your employees;
  • Suppliers;
  • Customers;
  • Competitors; and the
  • Public at large 

The second step is to create buyer profiles, recognise where they will be found and target your audience

Buyer Profiles

Start by creating a database of buyers that are most likely to be interested in buying your business. Consider attributes such as age, gender, qualifications, hobbies etc. The idea is to build a profile of the types of people who would be interested in buying your business.  

Target your audience 

Once you pinpoint your target audience you need to have knowledge of how to reach them. Focus your advertising in areas your target audience will read.

For example - Advertising in national newspapers is expensive but can yield good results if you choose the right newspaper; advertising in trade magazines and in local newspapers is a good way to get the message out to your industry. Online advertising is cost-effective and broadens the reach of your advertising to national and international prospective buyers.

Advertising In The Public Arena 

When making the choice to advertise on the open market there is a lot for you to consider - you do not want details of your business on the open market. The best way to avoid this is to do it yourself. 

Newspapers 

At this stage, newspapers are still one the most effective ways to reach business buyers. But, choose well. Consider where your potential buyers may live and what type of newspapers may interest them. Target your market specifically. Get creative. Direct the prospect to your online advertisement so they can learn more - in this way your net spend on newspaper ads will be smaller as more of the information will be displayed on another medium. 

For example, take the seller who had a lifestyle business for sale on the coast of New South Wales, Australia. Thinking out of the box the seller took a fresh look at who may be interested in a lifestyle business. Corporate people looking to escape the rat race of the city and people looking for a complete lifestyle change along with an income were the two main groups the seller identified. The seller then advertised in the Financial Review, a national Australian newspaper specialising in economics, business and finance in the Australian market. Not the normal or obvious place to advertize your coastal lifestyle business. But it was a success. The seller was overwhelmed with potential buyers looking for a lifestyle change that had an income attached. The business sold to a buyer from the corporate sector.

How To Get The Most From Online Advertising

After going to all the trouble of preparing your business for sale, and collecting the necessary information for its sale, it's important not to rush the advertising portion of the process.

By posting limited, ineffective ads you may only receive calls from buyers whom you consider unqualified and unprofessional. In short, if you are not thorough in your marketing you might be wasting a lot of time, both for yourself and potential buyers.

A basic idea for most classified ads is to whet the potential buyer's appetite. You want legitimate offers, so avoid big promises and overstated claims. Try to write your ad in layman's terms; industry jargon and technical terms may discourage potential buyers.

More information is better than less

As stated above, your goal is to whet the appetite, but in this case less information is not more. Common thinking suggests that buyers will be more likely to call if they are teased by your ad. In most cases the effect is the opposite. Buyers will bypass your business if they feel there is too little information.

More information gives buyers a sense of security: they may feel they already know a lot about you and your business just by reading your ad. If you include enough information in the description section the buyer will be pre-qualified when they contact you - this saves both parties a lot of hassle. Buyers feel more trusting towards a seller with comprehensive advertising, which helps when it comes time to negotiate a sale.

Serious buyers find it helpful if you put some of the following information in the detail section of your ad:

  • Length of time in business, business history
  • Number of employees
  • Information on the geographic area surrounding the business (very important for lifestyle retreats/B&Bs). If you are selling the property with the business, be sure to include the square footage or acreage and the property's value.
  • General industry info - how it's growing, changes etc.
  • How you would grow the business in the future - give them a "vision"
  • Include photographs of the business. Make sure they show a clean and well looked after premises. Photos on the business for sale websites get more buyers. You may think buyers would be more interested in the info behind the photos, but photos are an easy way to transmit the essence of the business to a large amount of eyes.
  • True adjusted net income (know precisely how you arrive at this figure)
  • Competitive analysis
  • Include any business website. Is the business computerised?
  • Multiple phone numbers ensure you can be reached at any time
  • You may wish to offer to stay on during the transition to the new owners. If so, indicate this.
  • Including this information in your online ad will improve the quality of the calls you receive from buyers, and you will spend much less time answering the same old questions. 

Get their attention - 'featuring' your ad improves exposure

Most classified directories have the option to 'feature' a listing. This means the ad will automatically appear at the top of listing results or in its own picture bar on each page - serious buyers will see it repeatedly and respond quicker. This option is usually worth purchasing. 

Contact prospective buyers 

There is an art to contacting prospective buyers. Look at your list of buyer profiles and decide which prospects are best if contacted directly. But beware there are a few simple but critical steps you need to follow for this to be successful. 

Sell to your employees 

Give your staff the opportunity to buy the business. In businesses that are highly specialised the employees may be the only potential buyers. This must be handled with the utmost sensitively and perfect timing. Again, I would stress the business owner is the ideal person to do this.

Other Resources

Sale of business agreement

Quickie Guide to Selling your Business

Confidentiality Agreeement Template for Selling a Business



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