While many business owners have a general sense of what their business may be worth and a threshold selling price in mind, going at it alone in a transaction process involves more than a notion on pricing – it involves procedural awareness, attention to detail, as well as a good measure of patience despite the desire for an immediate outcome.

In most external transactions (i.e., a business owner selling to a third party rather than to family or employees) there is an acute imbalance of savvy and experience between buyers and sellers. For certain sellers who owe their business successes to personal effort, brute force, and honed skills, it’s a difficult decision and an act of faith to turn the business asset over to an advisory team.

Buyers, both financial or strategic in nature, have completed many transactions while most sellers have never bought or sold a business. Given this near universal lop-sidedness in experience and resources, sellers need to assemble a team of experienced advisors to assist in navigating unfamiliar terrain. The time intensity and distractions of the process can cause the business to suffer if ownership sacrifices on operational oversight and foregoes the attention to detail that made the business an attractive acquisition target in the first place.

We strongly recommend hiring a full transaction team composed of, at a bare minimum, three primary players:

  • Transaction attorney
  • Tax accountant
  • Financial (sell-side) advisor

By securing a turnkey transaction team, business owners benefit from the multi-perspective expertise and overlapping skillsets of the team. The diversity and breadth of the team often facilitates proactivity and response capability for a wide variety of developments that can derail or compromise the timing, process and financial outcome of the final deal.

Benefits of Hiring a Financial Advisor

The following are a few of the many benefits of hiring a qualified sell-side advisor to assist in the transaction process.

Maximize Net Proceeds

The core components and key terms of a transaction are often complicated and sometimes deceptively obscured in the legal rhetoric of an LOI, APA or SPA. Hiring a sell-side advisor with the right experience and expertise can help business owners maximize the net proceeds from the transaction. Financial intricacies and other points of negotiation, such as working capital true-ups or contingent consideration arrangements, often require careful analysis and modeling in order to foster clear decision making regarding competing and differently structured deals.

A good sell-side advisor encourages objective comparative assessment of competing offers, negotiates key points, and helps acclimate sellers to certain realities of getting a deal done.

Negotiate Best Possible Terms

Sell-side advisors have years of experience reviewing purchase agreements and will work with ownership’s legal counsel to ensure the transaction documents accurately reflect the agreed upon value and terms. These documents can often be cumbersome and need to be reviewed and crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Experienced advisors can help streamline the fine-tuning of these documents to assist the business owner(s) in negotiating favorable (or acceptable) terms of sale.

At some point in most deals, a seller has to pick the fights worth fighting and concede on those terms that aren’t likely to change or have no real benefit. A good advisor should be frank and forthright with sellers, even when the recommendations or choices are not entirely satisfying. Sellers must be aware that a buyer needs a few wins and concessions to justify their investment. An informed seller, using the advice of a good seller representative, can better identify and prioritize the issues that impact the deal.

Drive Transaction to Closure

Seasoned sell-side advisors have often worked on hundreds of transaction engagements. This range of experience can be of great help if and when unexpected issues arise, and unexpected issues almost always arise. Sell-side advisors will work with the rest of the transaction team to manage these issues and provide the information necessary to make critical decisions regarding proposed solutions with the end-goal of driving a transaction to closure.

Confidentiality and Ownership Burden

Revealing a contemplated transaction to your employees and stakeholders can often lead to undue stress, which compounds the strain already present on ownership and management during a transaction process. With the help of a sell-side advisor, ownership and management can maintain their focus on running the business and generating profits while knowing that the transaction process is progressing in the background.

Ownership can also gain peace of mind in knowing that the transaction will become “public information” at the appropriate time, which allows the business to function normally throughout the entire process. Many of the delays and sensitivities involved in the selling process, represent the potential for unexpected breaches of information to employees and other stakeholders. Owners can avoid many water cooler dilemmas by using an outside representative who collects, organizes, and disseminates information and manages exchanges between the parties.


Admittedly, we are valuation and transaction advisory providers – go figure, that our advice is to retain us, if you desire strong representation that we believe will pay for itself. If you have a good business asset to sell, it’s likely you have been highly concentrated in your capital investments and your personal efforts to create that wealth. Selling such an asset is not only the opportunity to diversify your wealth but to outsource much of the pain and worry that accompanies the process of selling.

Mercer Capital offers a seasoned bench of professionals with a diversity of experience unmatched by most pure-play brokers and M&A representatives. We combine top-shelf valuation competency with a vast array of litigation, transaction advisory and consulting experience to facilitate the best available strategic outcomes for our clients. To discuss your situation in confidence, give us a call.

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