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M&A: One-of-a-Kind Selling Challenge

(News Item #0264, Published: 06/01/87, Author: William Victor May, Marketing Magazine)

As a challenge to all you marketing geniuses out there, how would you sell this? The product is completely intangible and changes daily (often negatively). It’s literally one-of-a-kind and very expensive (in the millions of dollars). The market is national, but you have little, if any budget. There are hundreds of prospective buyers, but you’ll be lucky to find just one who will fork over the dough. Worst of all, you have to sell this product without telling anyone it’s for sale!

Good luck! And welcome to the world of mergers and acquisitions. In case you’re not familiar with the term, "M&A" is that’s what we intermediaries call our industry of selling medium-sized, privately held companies.

We don’t sell small “Mom and Pop” businesses. That’s the domain of business brokers; and we don’t get to sell the public companies. The investment bankers snap up that market.

Our job is to sell the "big enough to crank out profits," but "not big enough to be household words" average American companies. There are approximately 3,000 such companies (26 or more employees) in the state of Washington.

They don’t sell very often and when they do, many perhaps most, are sold to insiders; to partners, family, friends, and even friendly competitors. The others, in an effort to get the best price or with no insider-buyer available, go to M&A consultants. In our state, there are less than a handful of these intermediaries.

If your curiosity’s piqued, here’s how we do it.