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At our Getting the Deal Done Breakfast Conference on November 4 there was universal agreement from the panelists* and our speaker, Mike Atkinson, CEO of Seattle Coffee Gear, that the most important component when selling a business is having the right buyer.

Seattle Coffee Gear was recapitalized by a PE firm whose people are experts in growing the online component of a business. As Mike mentioned, they were the right buyer.

I’ve experienced this multiple times in my career. 

  • A buyer is the lowest of three offers but gets the deal because the seller thinks, “He’s the right person for my company and my people.” 
  • An owner who liked (loved) the buyer so much he made an offering price so low there didn’t have to be any negotiation (of price).
  • Owners who brought buyers in to help run the business before closing, to not lose them as their buyer.

Of course, it goes the other way also. I’ve had buyers make an offer they felt the seller couldn’t refuse because they know they were such a good fit for the business (this is often a strategic buyer). 

When does all this happen? When there’s a relationship between buyer and seller. More than the numbers, more than the other factors, it’s when buyer and seller hit it off like old friends.

“Being president is like running a cemetery: You’ve got a lot of people under you and nobody’s listening.” President Bill Clinton* Myself and Greg Russell with PRK Livengood Law, Marc Hutchinson with Hutchinson Walter CPA, Jeff 

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