Trust is an essential ingredient to business success, yet is ironically lacking in M&A activity, which is traditionally cloaked in secrecy. However, privacy does not have to come with distrust.
Buyers and sellers need to invest more trust in their private processes and develop a rapport that drives the M&A process to success. Without mutual trust, buyers and sellers can expect more difficulty in working out the natural points of contention that come up on every deal.
Mutual trust starts in earnest with the first call or meeting. Here are 10 tips to build trust throughout the M&A process:
- Clearly articulate your intentions, and stay consistent.
- Offer an introduction to your company and how you envision the two companies melding and growing together post close.
- Schedule more than sufficient time for each meeting. Make time for a dinner or other nice occasion outside the conference room to demonstrate strong sincerity.
- Find common ground, such as hobbies or relating as professionals through your background and career development.
- Make sure the seller understands your buying process upfront. This includes what sort of approvals are required, financing requirements and an outline of your diligence process.
- During the deal process, have check in calls with your counterpart (e.g., VP Buyer Co. to VP Seller Co.) Depending on the deal, it may be useful to have your intermediary on those calls.
- Showing mutual compromise is a requirement to getting any deal done.
- Do not forget that most sellers will want to understand their fate post sale as early as possible.
- Avoid letting other corporate priorities get in the way. Most teams understand they have to do their day job plus work consistently on the deal to get a deal done.
- Think about a diligence process of about 60- 90 days and an integration process for key items within 100 days of closing. These sweet spots ensure that momentum and trust will not be lost.
Trust is critical in an M&A transaction. For sellers, establishing trust starts in the beginning of the process by readying your business for sale and developing a thorough and accurate offering memorandum. For buyers, it is important to clearly communicate the underlying acquisition strategy, financial wherewithal, and ability to close in a timely manner. The process of selling a business can be filled with complications. Mutual trust allows those complications to be overcome with considerably more ease.