Personally, I have only ever lost deals at the point where, in representing the seller, I put a price on the table. If the price is too high you are deemed as ‘greedy’; if the price is too low, then what’s the point?! Our strategy is always to request offers from interested parties once we have shared sufficient information for them to make an informed decision. The request for offers is underpinned by a number of important elements and learnings: firstly, our experience has shown that there is no such thing as an independent valuation of a business when it comes to a sale of control from one party to another. Businesses can only be valued by the acquirer, as the value depends entirely on what they plan to do with the business.
Secondly, and this confirms my first point, is that we will generally experience a wide range between lowest and highest offers – literally between two and three times! So, yes, an independent valuation may be of use when firming up balance sheet entries, or for insurance purposes, but not when passing control from party A to party B. The third reason why offers are so important is that a written offer, even if indicative and non-binding, very quickly separates the truly interested prospective acquirers from those who are ‘kind of interested at the right price. To quote Dave Rebettes from BCMS in the UK: “Enthusiasm from a prospect is no indication of the likelihood of them doing a deal”. This is exactly why offers are so important. Fourthly, and probably the most obvious reason for requiring offers, is that the moment you put a price on your business, you pretty much know what you will never get. Combine the strategy of requesting offers, with the natural competitive process that offers create, and you have really opened up the top end of what you may receive for your years of blood, sweat and tears!