Seller Interview

Overview

The Seller Interview is a studio-quality recorded phone call during which we ask you various questions. This will be released to pre-screened buyers after they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. The purpose of this call is to give prospective buyers a better feel for your business and yourself rather than having them simply read the confidential information memorandum (CIM) about your business.

Buyers want to hear the “real you.” They want to connect with the person in whom they will be investing time, money, energy, and resources. Buyers will be able to listen to rather than just read all of the important information about your business, thus increasing the chances of a sale.

We professionally edit the interviews, so there is no need to worry if you make a mistake, as they will be edited out after the call is recorded.

Important Notes

  • We work on the phone interview simultaneously while we prepare a draft of the CIM. A link to your interview is included in the CIM.
  • A buyer can only access the Seller Interview after they have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The Seller Interview is not shared publicly.

Interview Tips

Don’t simply recite facts that a potential buyer can read off an information sheet. Rather, provide details about what makes your business unique. It’s one thing for a potential buyer to read in the CIM that you have two key employees. It’s more interesting and beneficial for them to hear you talk about your key employees.

“One key employee is JoAnn, my secretary, who has been with the company since its inception, and her knowledge is invaluable. Another key employee is Joey, the office manager, who is a retired Army veteran and connects with so many of our clients. Both are willing to stay employed after the sale, and they are excited to help a new owner.”

Connecting with potential buyers and giving them a glimpse inside your business will give you a competitive edge when selling the business.

  • Focus on how difficult it would be for a buyer to start a business like yours from scratch.
  • Be honest and transparent — point out the negative issues in your business, especially those that can be easily fixed by a buyer. However, be sure that you can point out how these issues can be overcome. Following are two good examples of being transparent:

“I am not doing a lot of marketing for my business.”

Comment: This is a plus, as most buyers will see this as an opportunity for growth. If you are doing xxx in revenue with little marketing, then imagine what a buyer could do with the business if they invested more in marketing.

“My business is a bit disorganized — organization isn’t my strength.”

Comment: Again, this is an advantage to a buyer. If a buyer documents and streamlines your business, there is a high likelihood they can improve quality and more easily grow the business.

  • The focus of the call should be on the business’s strengths, not on you personally. You are selling the business, not yourself. You want to show that the business does not rely solely on your personal strengths and efforts. If you come across as too polished and experienced, most buyers will be intimidated and may feel it will be too difficult to replace you.
  • Make the buyer feel comfortable that you will be there to help train them and assist with the transition. Many buyers feel intimidated if they do not have experience in your industry.

Sample Interview Questions

The questions below are just a guide to help you prepare for the call. When you speak with our host, you can customize these questions.

History of the Business

  • History: How did you get started in this business? Did you buy the business or start it from scratch? Tell us about the history of the business.
  • Accomplishments/Changes: What major accomplishments or changes (marketing, operations, product lines, or any other substantial change) has the business undergone since inception?
  • Reason: Why are you selling the business?

Product/Service Description

  • Product/Service: What exactly does your business do? What products and services does your business offer? What is your best seller?
  • Differentiation: How are you different from other competitors in your marketplace?
  • Industry: What do you like best about working in this industry?
  • Pricing: How do you establish your pricing? How does your pricing compare with your competitors’ pricing?
  • Busy Times: What are your busiest times of the day, week, month, or year?

Customers & Market Area

  • Customer: Who is your average or target customer?
  • Customer Frequency: How many customers/clients do you serve, on average, per week, month, or year?
  • Market Area: What geographic areas (e.g., cities, states, etc.) are you doing business in?

Sales & Marketing

  • Marketing: What are you currently doing to market the business?
  • Effectiveness: What marketing techniques have been the most/least effective in the past?
  • Internet: How do you use the internet to market or advertise your business?

Staff

  • Your Role: What is your role in the business? Are you working full-time in the business?
  • Family: Are any family members or your spouse working in the business? Are there any partners involved in the business?
  • Key Positions: What are the key positions in your business for which it would be difficult to find a replacement quickly?

Location & Facilities

  • Facilities: Tell us about your facilities -– the type of building, space, etc.
  • Location: Tell us about the physical location of the business, including the general area the business is located in and any nearby relevant transportation, customers, vendors, etc.
  • Benefits of Location: What are the benefits of your location in relation to the products and services you offer?
  • Relocation: How important is the location for the business? Can the business be relocated?

Training, Transition & Improvement Potential

  • Qualifications: What qualifications does a buyer need to run the business?
  • Training: Are you willing to train a new buyer? If so, for how long?
  • Transition: Are you willing to stay involved in the business long-term after the sale?
  • Improvement: What can be done by a new owner to improve the business? Are there new products or services, or ways to increase revenue/profitability?

FAQs

  • A buyer can access the Seller Interview only after they have signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). A link to the Seller Interview is provided in the CIM.

  • No. Buyers must sign an NDA before they can access the CIM or the Seller Interview.

  • Ideally, all active owners should be on the call to give buyers a broader perspective of the business.

  • Yes, you can mention the negatives, as you will come across as being more trustworthy. However, it’s best to position the negative so it can be turned into a positive. Example: If you do not do much marketing, that’s a negative. At the same time, however, this is a positive for a buyer who is strong in marketing since the business could grow substantially if they focused on marketing.

  • Friendly, conversational, honest, and transparent. You want to also make sure that you are positive, credible, straightforward, and present an optimistic but realistic perspective.

  • You should be honest, especially if it is for technical reasons. However, you should mention ways to reduce the business’s dependency on you.