Selling Your Company: What’s It Worth to Your Buyer?

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No-one launches a company without expecting at some point to exit- often by selling it. For over 30 years I’ve been helping leaders design and deliver winning presentations – many of them focused on selling ideas, products, services and companies. Through Brilliant Image and Presentation Excellence, we’ve helped them design and deliver winning presentations. One key to our success is that we use the ADAP framework: Audience-driven, Authentic Presentations. Presentations win when they focus on what the audience needs to know and are prepared to learn, rather than only focus on identifying the positive perspective of the presenter’s intrinsic “asset”.  

That point was reinforced in an interview with Seth Godin on Built to Sell Radio, who observed that “Good companies aren’t sold, they’re bought.”

Seth, a renowned entrepreneur, legendary marketer, and best-selling author, explained that focusing on attracting the attention of an acquirer is the key to fetching a premium for your business. Having sold his first business, Yoyodyne, to Yahoo! at the height of the late ’90s’ Internet boom, he referenced another Yahoo! acquisition to prove his point. Yahoo! bought Mark Cuban’s for $5.7 billion. The price was not based on a multiple of profit. Instead, Yahoo! was looking to incorporate Broadcast’s streaming services into their online portal, which was highly popular and a cash cow. Yahoo! believed that Broadcast’s streaming assets would make it even more valuable.  

Uri Levine, founder of Waze, makes a similar point in his discussion of selling Waze (and other companies). Google eventually offered $1.2 Billion dollars for the company – even though its revenues were only $1 Million. They understood the potential of using the technology to build Google maps, exponentially grow the base of people using the app, and turn it into a lucrative advertising media.

So, when the time comes to sell your company, product or service, focus on finding strategic buyers for whom the company has much greater value than the company alone. Help the potential buyer see all the ways it can win — and you’ll do much better than just trying to focus on its intrinsic profit value for you.