Restarting a stalled sale process

Exiting a business is rarely straightforward, and becomes particularly challenging when the sale process stalls indefinitely. This situation can lead to a sense of despair, potentially deterring ongoing efforts to find a suitable buyer.

Nonetheless, it's crucial to remain optimistic and persistent. A lack of immediate interest doesn't automatically render your business unmarketable or undesirable.

Reevaluating your sales strategy is essential. Taking a calm, logical approach to examine your current methods can reveal missteps and enable necessary adjustments, increasing your chances of a successful transaction.

Consider the following advice if you find your business sale is not progressing:

1 – Evaluate Your Price Point
As an owner and possibly the founder, you likely hold your business in high esteem. Yet, an inflated valuation can deter prospective purchasers, hindering a successful sale.

Although difficult, rethinking your price, perhaps to something lower than your personal valuation, could prevent a protracted sale and minimise potential losses, even if you achieve your desired price.

Base your price on concrete metrics such as sales multiples or comparable market transactions to set a more attainable figure.

2 – Secure Professional Advice
Without a skilled advisor, consider hiring one immediately to realign your sale process. An advisor, experienced in your industry's sales, can offer critical insights and direction.

While advisors come at a cost, the right one can be instrumental in facilitating a swift, profitable sale, outweighing the initial investment.

3 – Broaden Your Buyer Spectrum
You may have envisioned a specific buyer profile, perhaps mirroring your own characteristics and vision. However, holding out for this ideal might lead you to overlook suitable candidates.

Expanding your buyer criteria could rejuvenate your sale effort. Selling to an internal team or an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) might not yield immediate large sums but can be an effective, expedient solution. Alternatively, consider competitors as viable buyers, given their industry understanding and potential to sustain the business's success.

4 – Consider Seller Financing
Seller financing can attract a wider range of buyers by eliminating the immediate financial barrier. Though it involves some risk and might not secure a large upfront sum, it can ultimately facilitate the sale to a committed purchaser.

5 – Reassess Timing
The most difficult advice might be to postpone your sale, especially after investing significant effort. However, if your sale is stagnant, pressing ahead might lead to regrettable, hasty decisions.

Market conditions or recent financial struggles within your business might render the current time unsuitable for sale. Delaying until the market improves or your business recovers could lead to a more successful outcome, transforming a seeming failure into a strategic pause for better opportunities.