“Everything in life is a sale and everything you want is a commission.” - Grant Cardone.
From sunup to sundown, we are active participants in the world of sales. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or how you spend your free time, we are either selling something or being sold something. From Instagram ads to billboards, agreeing to upsize your fast food order, convincing a toddler to eat their vegetables, jockeying for a promotion, deciding which movie to watch, or creating an online dating profile, it all comes down to the art of the sale.
And when it comes to the business of buying a business, it’s no different.
If you’ve followed our advice thus far (hint, you should be), by this point, you will know that the ideal business acquisition often comes down to the ideal seller. They are someone ready to retire, concerned about their legacy, want to protect their employees, or simply burnt out and ready to move on.
However, unless they are ready to jump ship come hell or high water, even the most motivated of sellers sometimes need a little push or encouragement. This is potentially their life’s work, and they may not be willing to hand it over to the first offer that comes along.
Money talks, but it’s not the only speaker in the room. For them, it’s about more than the price tag.
It’s not enough that YOU know you’re the right buyer for their business. You need to show THEM why.
How? By building their trust, helping them see your vision, and reassuring them their legacy is in good hands. To put it simply: You have to sell yourself.
It seems backward, yes. You may be the one with the checkbook, but they are the ones in control.
How To Sell Yourself Without Sounding Like You’re Selling Yourself
Before you jump into your first meeting with a potential seller, here are a few tips and pieces of advice to set you up for success.
To give yourself the best shot at securing the deal, you need to look as attractive as possible; “show off the goods,” so to speak. Answer the following questions as it pertains to the business you’re looking to buy.
This information shows a seller that you’ve done your research and have the experience, skills, partner, or resources to take it on. It gives them confidence in their choice of passing on their life’s work to you.
It’s one thing to talk the talk; show them that you’ve walked the walk. Provide evidence of your success. Talk about your strengths and be specific about the goals you’ve achieved. “I was able to achieve [insert win here] because I did [X, Y, Z].” The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Show them you can back your words up with action.
Hype yourself up, but be willing to share your failures, too. Show them how you learned from those setbacks and how you corrected the course. And don’t be afraid to admit you’re not an expert in every single thing. (Nobody likes a know-it-all.) Being a “Jack of all trades, master of none” can actually serve a very valuable purpose. Your unique combination of skills and experience, even if you’re not “in the top 1%,” may make you ideally suited for their particular business. (Elon Musk can build spaceships, but can he run a floral shop? Our money is on no.)
The best business deals are those that benefit both parties. You want to shave some dollars off the asking price. They want to know their clients are being taken care of, or their employees can keep their jobs. Ask them questions. Find out what their goals are. Know what’s important to them, and make sure it’s part of your sales pitch.
Some Final Advice
“Growth and comfort do not coexist.” (Ginni Rometty, former CEO of IBM)
Your first meeting might go very poorly. You may stumble over all your words or accidentally insult the seller or forget every great thing you’ve done and end up leaving the room feeling like a complete and utter failure who has no idea what they’re doing, and maybe you’ll just go back to your 9-5 job forever and ever, amen.
But your second meeting might go better. And your third might go better yet. Like anything in life, the more you do it, the better you get. But you have to be willing to try. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone. You have to be willing to sell yourself.