Broker Outreach for Industry-Targeted Business Acquisitions

Table of Contents

In industry-targeted business acquisitions, especially in sectors like tech-enabled services, software, and professional services, finding the right brokers is both critical and challenging. This article, enriched with insights from a vibrant Searchfunder forum discussion, offers in-depth strategies for entrepreneurs seeking to navigate this complex landscape effectively.

Understanding the Broker Landscape

The initial step in any industry-targeted search is to understand the broker landscape thoroughly. Business brokers serve as crucial intermediaries, linking business buyers with potential sellers. However, the challenge arises in the alignment of broker listings with your specific industry needs. As noted by Christopher Deitrick on Searchfunder, “I’m struggling to build a list of brokers for my initial introduction/outreach because my search is industry-targeted.” This sentiment is a common pain point for many searchers, where the available brokers may not necessarily cater to specific industry requirements.

Further exploring the broker landscape, Deitrick shares a statistic that underscores the need for targeted broker selection: “I have reviewed ~20 of 500+ brokers marked as industry-relevant by IBBA. Probably about 15% actually have a relevant listing.” This exemplifies the low percentage of brokers who are genuinely aligned with certain industry niches, highlighting the importance of diligent research and selection.

Effective Broker Outreach Strategies

 

Initial Research and Outreach

The first actionable step is to conduct meticulous research to identify brokers who specialize in your target industry. Platforms like the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) provide a starting point. Despite the extensive listings on such platforms, the actual percentage of brokers with relevant expertise is relatively low. Therefore, focusing on those with proven track records in your desired sector can significantly improve your search outcomes.

Clear and Transparent Communication

When reaching out to brokers, clarity and transparency in communication are paramount. Clearly state your credentials, such as being a full-time searcher, your willingness to relocate, funding availability, and relevant experience. Deitrick advises searchers to be upfront about their qualifications: “For reference, I plan to mention all the relevant details about myself: full-time searcher, willing to relocate, funding available, relevant experience, etc.” This level of transparency is crucial as it attracts brokers who are more likely to take your inquiry seriously and offer suitable listings.

Follow-Up and Relationship Building

Establishing a personal connection with brokers is essential for long-term success. Andy Erskine of Loyalty Business Brokers emphasizes the importance of follow-up: “Email brokers, follow up with a phone call and try to schedule a call to put a name to the voice/face. Always put brokers, M&A advisors, and investment bankers on a monthly or quarterly drip campaign on your search.” This approach helps maintain your presence on their radar, crucial in an industry where broker interactions are frequent and varied.

Leveraging Niche and Generalist Brokers

Both niche brokers, who specialize in specific sectors, and generalist brokers, who handle a variety of industries, have roles to play in your search. Kieran Monteil of Fairways Investments Ltd points out, “There are some specialty brokers but as a general rule they are sector agnostic, most are decent at marketing and try to get as many people as possible in front of their client.” Utilizing a mix of both can cover a broader spectrum of potential opportunities.

Consistent Engagement and Regular Updates

Keeping in touch with brokers through regular updates ensures that you remain in their thoughts when relevant listings arise. Derek Manning from Value Drivers dot Biz recommends a proactive approach: “Reach out with an outline of your interested industry, information about your professional and financial ability to follow through, then check back in periodically.

Exploring Alternative Channels

When traditional broker channels do not yield the desired results, consider alternative approaches such as engaging buy-side brokers or directly approaching potential targets. Although these methods may involve higher fees or more direct involvement, they can offer more tailored results. Deitrick mentions, “To your point, these [direct approaches or buy-side brokers] seem to be the exception,” indicating that these strategies, while less common, can be effective under certain conditions.

Building a Broker Network

The process of building a broker network goes beyond mere transactions; it involves cultivating long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial. John Song from Angel Capital Management LLC stresses the importance of these relationships: “You need to forge long-term relationships with intermediaries. You should share information, grow together.” These relationships are foundational to successful acquisitions, providing a continuous exchange of information and opportunities.

Conclusion

Successfully navigating the broker landscape for business acquisitions requires a well-thought-out strategy characterized by meticulous research, clear communication, and consistent engagement. By leveraging both niche expertise and the broad reach of generalist brokers, entrepreneurs can enhance their chances of finding the right business acquisition opportunities. The insights from the Searchfunder forum underscore that every interaction with a broker is a step towards building a robust network in the M&A ecosystem, crucial for achieving long-term success in business acquisitions.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing the right brokers is crucial because they act as intermediaries who can connect you with potential sellers in your targeted industry. A well-matched broker increases the likelihood of finding a business that aligns with your specific criteria and strategic goals.

You can start by researching on platforms like the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA), where brokers are often listed with details regarding their areas of expertise. Focus on those with a proven track record in your desired sector by reviewing their profiles, past transaction histories, and client testimonials.

Be clear and transparent about your credentials, including your status as a full-time searcher, your willingness to relocate, available funding, and relevant experience. Explicitly stating these details helps brokers understand your seriousness and readiness, making it more likely for them to present you with suitable business opportunities.

Regular follow-ups and relationship building are important because they help you stay top of mind for brokers. This is crucial in an industry where brokers meet many clients. Establishing a personal connection and maintaining regular contact through calls or emails can set you apart from other buyers.

Both niche and generalist brokers can be beneficial. Niche brokers offer specialized knowledge and connections within specific industries, while generalist brokers provide a broader range of business listings. Utilizing a mix of both can maximize your exposure to potential opportunities that align with your acquisition criteria.

If traditional broker networks do not meet your needs, consider using buy-side brokers who can actively search for businesses that meet your criteria, or directly approach business owners. These methods might involve higher costs or more legwork but can lead to more tailored and potentially under-the-radar opportunities.

Maintain effective communication by organizing regular updates, either through a structured drip campaign (monthly or quarterly emails) or scheduled calls. This helps keep your search criteria fresh in the broker’s mind and can encourage them to contact you as soon as a fitting opportunity arises.

Building long-term relationships with brokers can offer several benefits, including receiving first notice of new listings, personalized service, and potential access to exclusive deals. A strong relationship based on mutual trust and professional respect can also lead to referrals and valuable industry insights.

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Picture of Written by Roman Beylin

Written by Roman Beylin

Roman Beylin is the founder of DueDilio, a leading online marketplace to assemble an M&A deal team. Our large and growing network of highly vetted independent professionals and boutique firms specialize in M&A advisory, due diligence, and post-acquisition value creation.

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