Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are complex transactions that require a great deal of preparation, negotiation, and collaboration between the parties involved. One of the most critical aspects of any M&A deal is making a good first impression. Unfortunately, many buyers overlook the importance of a first impression, assuming that the valuation and payment terms are all that matter to a seller. However often the seller’s perspective is that they want a good home for their clients, their employees, and themselves if they’re staying on post-acquisition.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of a good first impression in M&A transactions and provide tips for making a positive impression on the seller. Although these may seem obvious and trivial in some cases, we continue to see areas for improvement and deals lost due to the subtle yet critical nature of the first impression.
The first impression sets the tone for the entire transaction. If the buyer comes across as disrespectful, unprepared, or uninterested, the seller may feel hesitant to move forward with a transaction. So it is important for the buyer to make a positive impression on the seller and demonstrate their professionalism, respectfulness, and interest in the seller’s business. By following these tips, buyers can establish a positive relationship with the seller and increase the chances of a successful deal.
Whether it’s in person or virtual, being punctual shows that you respect the other person’s time and are serious about the transaction. It also demonstrates your reliability and professionalism. If there are unexpected delays or issues, communicate them promptly and clearly to the other party. Being on time is a simple but important way to set the tone for a successful M&A transaction.
Dressing professionally for video calls is an important aspect of making a good first impression in an M&A transaction. It demonstrates that you take the transaction seriously and respect the seller’s time and effort. To dress professionally, choose clothing that is appropriate for a business setting, avoid distracting patterns or colors, and consider your background and surroundings. Also, ensure that the lighting and audio quality of the video call are suitable. Although these may seem obvious, the following are all based on experiences we’ve had. Taking calls in moving cars or coffee shops with background noise is annoying and frustrating for others on the call. Constantly dealing with your dog barking or kids yelling is equally annoying. Wearing hoodies, exposing armfuls of tattoos, smoking or drinking alcohol while on the call, should also be avoided.
Avoiding politics or controversial issues is important during an M&A transaction and discussion process, as these topics can be divisive and create tension between the buyer and seller and these days are very polarizing. It is crucial to keep the conversation focused on the business and transaction, rather than personal or political beliefs. By avoiding controversial topics, the buyer can create a comfortable and productive environment for the discussion of the transaction. The conversation should focus on the business and its strengths, areas for growth or improvement, the buyer’s company and culture, and how they plan to integrate the acquired business into their operations.
Complimenting the seller on their business indicates that the buyer values the seller’s efforts and accomplishments and has conducted thorough research on their business. Specific and genuine compliments can help to establish a shared understanding of the business’s potential and facilitate productive discussions about the transaction. The buyer can also ask the seller about their goals for the business and their vision for its future to ensure that both parties are aligned in their goals for the transaction.
The buyer should highlight their own company’s strengths and what sets them apart from other companies, emphasizing their values and approach to business. The buyer should emphasize their approach to treating employees to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a positive work environment and employee well-being after the transaction. This can be achieved by discussing specific employee benefits, programs, and company culture, while also showing interest in the seller’s current approach to employee well-being. By highlighting these aspects and outlining how the acquired business will be integrated, the buyer can build a positive relationship with the seller and set the stage for a successful and smooth transition.
Positive body language demonstrates confidence and friendliness, which can help to put the seller at ease and establish a positive rapport. It’s important to maintain good eye contact and a friendly smile throughout the meeting or video call, as this shows that you are engaged and interested in what the seller has to say.
During any business meeting or negotiation, it’s crucial to be attentive and respectful towards the other person. This means actively listening to what they have to say and asking relevant questions to show that you are interested in their perspective. By being attentive, you can better understand their needs and concerns and address those concerns proactively. Additionally, showing respect towards the other person can help build trust and establish a positive working relationship.
After an initial meeting with a seller, it’s important to follow up with a thank-you note or email to show appreciation for their time and interest. This helps establish a positive relationship with the seller, to clarify your interest level, and to ask questions. Then if there are follow up questions asked by the seller, it’s important to answer promptly to demonstrate the buyer’s seriousness and how easy it will be to work with them. Following up effectively can help build trust and establish a strong foundation for a successful M&A transaction.
Making a good first impression is crucial for any M&A transaction. A positive first impression sets the tone for the rest of the deal, and it can make all the difference in establishing a productive working relationship between the buyer and seller. It’s important to be punctual, dress professionally, avoid controversial topics, compliment the seller, speak to your corporate culture, use positive body language, be attentive and respectful, and follow up promptly after the initial meeting. By following these tips, buyers can create a positive environment for the transaction and increase the chances of a successful deal. A good first impression demonstrates the buyer’s professionalism, respectfulness, and interest in the seller’s business, and sets the stage for trust which is key for a smooth and successful transaction.