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These guys made a ridiculously low offer for our company. Should we say ‘h— no’, counter, or just ignore it altogether?

Rob and Sally (not their real names) have been in business together for almost 20 years, 甚至在他们结婚之前. Now in their mid-60s, they want to move to Texas to be near Sally’s grandchildren. 罗布对搬家也很兴奋. He has his eye on building a home on one of the area’s finest golf courses.

Though they have not formally started the process to sell their company, Rob and Sally put the word out in industry circles that they’d consider offers. They received a letter from a potential buyer who has a business in Ohio similar to theirs. In his letter, the potential buyer said he was looking to expand into the Southeast. In many respects, this potential buyer looked like the perfect fit. 就在那时,罗布打电话给我.

I helped Rob and Sally write an overview of their business, including financial history since 2013 and forecast for 2018 and 2019. We also provided a summary of the team that would stay in place once Rob and Sally were gone. 当然, we didn’t share any of this information with the potential buyer until he had signed a non-disclosure/non-compete agreement.

Rob and Sally had an introductory phone call with the potential buyer. His energy and enthusiasm for the opportunity seemed obvious. Rob and Sally were excited to think they might have found the right buyer for their company.

Then the ridiculously low offer came in. When they asked my advice on how to respond, my first instinct was to take the low road and advise them to not even respond, 无视他的存在. We all know there are bottom feeders out there who try to take advantage of people, and who wants to even deal with that kind? But after thinking about it for a day or so, I met Rob and Sally for lunch and proposed an alternative idea. 完全的诚实. I suggested they call the potential buyer and tell him the exact terms they would accept. I further suggested they preface their comments with an explanation they were not interested in a counter-offer or drawn-out negotiation. 准确的术语就是准确的术语.

Now here is the tricky part of this advice… I had to help Rob and Sally get to a number that was reasonable because their instinct was to shoot high and negotiate down from there. But that’s how amateurs negotiate a business transaction. 已经说过, my advice only works if the 卖方 has a number that genuinely represents their walk-away point and that number has to be in the strategic interest of the buyer. We spent a lot of time determining that and preparing an explanation as to why that valuation was reasonable. 只是说, the conversation has to go something like this, “Here are my terms and here’s why it makes sense for you.”

所以,发生了什么事? 罗布让我和他一起参加电话会议. I listened as Rob thoughtfully explained what they wanted for the company and why they thought that valuation was justified. 你瞧, 在通话结束时, the potential buyer said he learned some things he didn’t previously know that might affect his offer.  He said he’d be back with us after the holidays.

我的建议有用吗?? 我不确定. 然而, being honest and detailed in explaining your expectations is likely always better than saying “h ___ no” or ignoring the offer.


JIM CUMBEE is President of 田纳西河谷集团, Inc. a retainer-based business brokerage and transition mediation 公司位于田纳西州富兰克林. Cumbee is an attorney and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has a wide range of corporate 和企业家ial experiences that make him one of the most sought-after business transition advisors in the state of Tennessee.

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吉姆Cumbee established 田纳西河谷集团 to help business owners fulfill their dreams for life after business ownership. It’s a mission that his 30+ year career history had prepared him well for—in addition to being an attorney, transition mediator and business broker, 吉姆是一个买家, 卖方, 和企业家. His broad range of experience gives him unique insight into how business buyers and 卖方s can achieve their goals.

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