Monday, November 28, 2011

Advice from a UC Davis Alum: Don't Pepper Spray Your Buyers!

The national pepper spray incident at UC Davis has really hit home with me.You may or may not know this, but in addition to graduating from UC Davis in 1987, I also grew up in Davis, CA.  To add another layer, I'm also a wife of a police sargent (also a UC Davis Grad), so I understand that police are in a pressure cooker during a protest situation, but as a Davis Girl and Grad, this national black eye is really, really painful.  After reading more about the purpose of pepper spray, I learned that its primary use is to "handle unruly persons", which triggered my thinking about business sellers negotiating with potential buyers on the sale of their company.

If you are thinking about selling your business in 2012, whatever you do, don't metaphorically spray your best buyers with pepper spray!

Specifically, during negotiations, many sellers automatically take an aggressive position and assume that a buyer is trying to take advantage of them.  While this may be true at times, the majority of  buyers are seeking a win-win outcome because their bigger goal is to ensure that the business continues to be successful after the sale.

To make sure your don't douse your deal with cayenne pepper, keep in mind these 3 important tips:

1. Know the market value of your company.
Use my Back-of-the-Envelope Valuation Worksheet (register at for your free download), so you can approach the price negotiation from a knowledgeable position, not an emotional position.

2. Make a list of your non-negotiable deal terms.
Know and protect what's most important you, but be flexible on other terms that may be very important to the buyer.

3. Be transparent with the buyer, beginning with your reason for selling.
If you are open and forthcoming with information, you will set the buyer at ease and reduce their concerns right from the start.

Just like big cultural shifts in our world, selling a business will always be a stressful time. However, if you approach the negotiation standing in the other parties' shoes, the transaction is more likely to unfold positively and the training period after the closing will be a time of excitement for all about the what's to come.

I'm Julie Gordon White, Certified Business Broker, Amazon Business Best Selling Author of "EXIT! 12 Steps to Sell Your Business for the Price You Deserve" (and proud UC Davis Grad!), signing off until next time! For more videos, tips and tools, visit

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