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How to Hold a First Call

(Hint - if you're using ExitHero, we'll help you through this...)


You have identified potential acquirers and sent teaser emails. Now the fun begins, scheduling calls and identifying who is interested. You must manage emotions and expectations. Individuals will drop out of the funnel, but always remember that a no is the second-best answer to yes, allowing you to focus on the serious buyers.

Follow up with individuals that do not respond to emails as people get easily distracted and might ov

erlook the amazing opportunity you are presenting.

Your mission is to get them excited about the opportunity, synergies with their business and how you can be a valuable member to their team. It is imperative that you tell a compelling story and communicate how your product / service will expand their current reach and long-term success. Do your research and be specific; people often lack the imagination. For example, if 10% of your one million customers purchased our SaaS tool for $100/year, you could generate an additional $10 million in revenue and $X profit. The example is clearly identifying the value add in a succinct manner.

Always try to start the conversation with an ice breaker and find some common interest or shared insight about anything. Of course, make or remind any mutual connection or how you got to them in the first place.

Another good way to kick off a call is to do a quick overview of your background, how / why you started the business, the opportunity, its growth rate and your progress toward validating or capturing it. This will likely lead to the other side asking questions, such as these:

  1. Why are you selling your business? Share some of your reflections from step 1 in the roadmap when you defined success.

  2. What makes you unique and different from competitors? Here, try to make your cumulative experience sound difficult to replicate. Part of what a buyer gets is the ability to move faster and avoid mistakes because of your market knowledge.

  3. What’s your revenue? How many customers do you have? Some buyers will be looking for a certain scale level to make the deal meaningful.

  4. Do you have any expectations on price? Best reply: We are looking for the right partner to realize our vision and maximize long-term value creation.

  5. What’s your timing?

Next, shift to learning about their business and their priorities, goals and challenges. You want them to see how your business will accelerate their success or reduce risks they face.

Ask the buyer questions. You have an opportunity to size them up and learn about their decision-making process for making an offer:

  1. What are your priorities for this year and goals for the future?

  2. What challenges does your business face?

  3. Are you interested in seeing how we can help you address #1 and #2?

  4. What additional information do you need to make a decision?

  5. How are these decisions made and who is involved?

  6. Anything you can share about successful acquisitions that you've done in the past?

You are looking for what they value and how they approach these opportunities. Remember that not everyone has an imagination to see what is possible, so you’ll need to show how you are the solution to their growth goals and / or solving challenges or threats their business faces.

Hopefully, you’ve got them to “see the light” and want to learn more about the business. Next, you can have them sign an NDA if you are concerned about sharing more information. Your pitch deck should help give the potential acquirer a good solid understanding of the business and its metrics.

Your next call will be to follow up with them and answer any additional questions plus continue to build the relationship. Develop an agenda based on your previous call and email correspondences. An agenda will help you understand the prospects perspective and address any questions / concerns.

After you answer their follow-up questions, you can be direct and ask if they would like to proceed to the next step of indicating their formal interest and presenting an offer.

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