Ask To Understand

Tuesday, March 21 2017

UnderstandI love to ask questions. I’m naturally curious and I like to understand what’s going on in the mind of others. The better you understand the perspective, wants and needs, values and beliefs, rational and emotional reasoning of others, the better your ability to:

  • Communicate more effectively
  • Address their wishes and issues
  • Engage in a more meaningful, honest discussion
  • Help them get what they want
  • Better position your ideas to match what’s important to them

When it comes to selling your business, prospective buyers will be very curious too. They will want to know as much about you and your business as possible, in order to judge the value of your business and understand what you want to get out of the deal. They’ll want to know why you’re selling and what’s critical to you in this negotiation. They will have a long list of questions they’ll want you to answer.

You’ll do better if you are prepared and can demonstrate that you’ve thought this transition through.  Learn what those questions are and document the answers. If you’d like a free list of due diligence questions that a buyer is likely to ask, you can request it here.

You, too, should have questions:

  • What is the buyer looking for?
  • Why are they interested in your business?
  • What will they do with it once they buy it?
  • What are their priorities?
  • How will your employees be treated?
  • Will they want you to stay on? For how long?
  • How will they structure the financing?
  • How many businesses have they purchased in the past?
  • What is their track record?
  • What changes have they typically implemented once they purchase a business? Would they see doing that here?
  • How does your business fit with their short- and long-term goals?
  • Will they plan to move the business or leave it where it is?
  • What are the strategic advantages to them buying your company?

Stephen Covey wrote: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Most people are happy to answer your questions because they want to feel understood. Asking good and meaningful questions enables you to tap into that natural desire and helps ensure you are negotiating a win-win agreement.