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Home > Tools and Resources > Ask the Expert > Questions a Buyer Should Ask a Seller

Questions a Buyer Should Ask a Seller
First-time buyers seeking advice on how to approach initial meeting with seller.

By Richard Parker | Diomo Corporation
Contact Richard Parker | Visit Website | About The Author

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Question:
My wife and I are meeting next week with the seller and his broker of a business we are interested in, and we’re trying to prepare a list of questions to ask. So far we are drawing a blank? The business seems to be fairly straightforward (it is a retail Floral and Gift shop) and they have already given us basic financial information for the past 12 months. What else should we be asking for? Also, what is the real goal for this meeting?

Answer:
This is a wonderful question. I am pleased to learn that you are going to prepare yourself properly for the meeting. While there are numerous questions to be asked, you will want to see how the meeting progresses in general. It may evolve into a productive conversation.

Here are a few of the questions to ask the seller:

Your other point about what the real goal for this meeting is a very perceptive question/observation on your behalf. There are really three areas to focus on:

1. Answers and Research
You want to get enough answers and detail to your questions so you can immediately focus on researching the business, the industry, the competition, etc. Although the Internet allows prospective business buyers to do phenomenal research and quickly, in today’s environment, good businesses sell fast - very fast. As such, you may not have a lot of time between a seller meeting and preparing an offer. Obviously, you’ll want to do your homework before moving to an offer so be sure to get enough information in your seller meeting to conduct your research. On this note, always ask the seller if he/she has copies of any trade publications. They’re a great source for additional information.

2. Seeing Yourself In The Business
If you take away anything from a seller meeting, it should be the answer to these four questions:

Questions 1 and 2 are obvious. Questions 3 and 4 are critical. If you like the seller and trust them, chances are you and they will be able to work through any and all of the deal challenges that will arise. Trust is also paramount. If not, you will always keep thinking they are hiding something.

I have been involved in hundreds of business sales and in my experience, when the buyer wants to buy, and the seller wants to sell, and the parties trust one another; you cannot stop them from getting a deal done.

3. Impress The Seller
If you have any chance of getting the seller to finance the deal, or bend more they would normally on the deal terms, you need to leave them feeling that “you’re the one” to buy their business. If they believe that you can not only get the deal done, but also run the business successfully, they will go out of their way to make the deal happen.

So there you have it: a series of key questions to ask the seller, and the key points to focus on as your goal when you meet them. Good luck!

Get more expert advice in Richard Parker's How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price - the most widely used reference resource and strategy guide for buying a business.

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About The Author
Richard Parker is the author of: How To Buy A Good Business At A Great Price, the most widely used reference resource and strategy guide for buying a business. He has purchased ten businesses in his career and has helped thousands of prospective buyers worldwide learn how to buy the right business for sale. He is also founder and President of Diomo Corporation - The Business Buyer Resource Center.

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