Tag Archives: Multiple

How Do You Prepare for a Potential Acquisition? Three Areas of Focus

Situation: A CEO has been approached about a potential acquisition of his company. The offer was a surprise, and the team within the company is split on whether they are interested in a sale. They are currently very happy with what they do. How do you prepare for a potential acquisition?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • How does a company best position itself in advance of discussions?
    • Rebrand the company to boost the value proposition. Make what the company does best the focus of its value proposition. Position the company as the “experts” in this area.
    • Look at a series of possible scenarios that could develop and determine who on the team can best contribute each scenario. This will help to evaluate the implications of each scenario and to rank them in terms of favorability on the company’s terms. It will also help to quickly exclude certain scenarios if they come up during discussions with acquirers.
  • What research should the company conduct on the acquirer?
    • Do a deep dive into the potential acquirer. Research is simplified if the acquirer is public. Go online and look at their SEC and public filings. Look at their revenue trend as well as their profitability or losses.
    • What is the acquirer’s history of acquisitions? Interview people from companies that they have purchased.
    • Don’t pitch anything to the acquirer until you understand what they want to buy – this is critical so that the company positions itself well.
  • What is the best approach to take once the conversation starts?
    • Quick first step – send the company’s financials to the acquirer with a 3-year projection. Ask them, based on this, for a price range that they would consider for the company. If the range is outside of expectations, the conversation is over.
    • Determine whether this looks like a strategic vs. a financial buy. A strategic buy yields a higher price.
    • Cut a deal structure with a bonus tied to success post acquisition. This means a reasonable upfront payment with big payments for future success. This creates golden handcuffs to motivate the company’s staff to stay post-acquisition.
    • There should be multiple options on table – addressing both financial considerations and the future of team.
    • Always be ready to say no!

How Do You Evaluate Marketing Partners? Six Observations

Situation: A company is interested in partnering with a larger company to market a suite of services. They have identified two good candidates. They haven’t worked with partners in the past and are curious about how other companies work with marketing partners. How do you evaluate marketing partners?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The danger of working with a single marketing partner is that all of your eggs are in one basket. Your success in this relationship will depend upon the success of the marketing partner. This, in turn, will depend on the amount of attention that they pay to marketing your services, and on how actively their sales department sells your services. The danger to you is loss of control over the marketing and sales process.
  • Another company had a similar situation several years ago. At that time, the advice of the CEOs was to not select an exclusive partner, but instead to work with two different marketing partners, even though they are competitors. The company followed this advice, and it has worked like a charm.
  • Start with a position that you want a non-exclusive relationship. If a potential partner insists on exclusivity then ask for fixed guarantees of business and fixed minimums.
  • Other companies around the table work in partnership with competing companies all of the time. All of the partners value the services that these companies provide, and the relationships are harmonious.
  • If a possible partner insists on an exclusive relationship, another alternative is to split territories and supplement your agreements with most favored nation clauses.
  • Going back to the original question, provided that the terms offered by the marketing partner/partners are favorable, you won’t really know how they will perform until you establish a relationship and monitor it over time. Exit clauses and conditions will be an important part of any marketing agreement.

How Do You Overcome Resistance to Change? Five Suggestions

Situation: A CEO manages more than one company and is overcome by the complexity of the task. The biggest challenge is the oldest of the companies which is increasingly resistant to change. How do you overcome resistance to change?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Regardless of the age or experience of any company, meeting on-going performance objectives is critical. The fact that strategic imperatives have led to the formation of spin-off entities does not change this. Managers and key personnel are expected to perform to reasonable expectations, whether in a family or non-family business.
  • Resistance to change may be a symptom of more fundamental issues. Is the older business receiving adequate attention from upper management? Are they receiving sufficient funding and resources to complete their objectives? Do they have the latitude to make decisions necessary to achieve their objectives? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then address this first.
  • Presuming that the answers to the questions mentioned above are positive let the key personnel in this company know that they remain a critical business entity. Telling them this 1-on-1 is not enough. They need to hear this in public forums within the company. They need to be clear on the opportunity that the company enjoys, and what this means both for the company and for them as employees.
  • You cannot over-communicate the vision, mission and opportunity. They already know that you are juggling multiple balls and need ongoing assurance that they remain important.
  • Make sure that you have a right person handling day to day matters in the core company and in each of the other entities so that as they grow that they can support themselves.