If you are interested in selling your agency, finding a buyer might be as simple as approaching a friendly competitor to begin a dialogue about a merger or sale. You could also ask carrier representatives for a lead on a potential suitor. The biggest downside to such a direct approach is that most sellers want to maintain a high degree of anonymity while they vet the opportunities, not risking the possibility of clients or carriers getting wind of the deliberations prematurely. For buyers, the direct approach can be more effective since anonymity isn’t usually an issue. Prospecting for acquisition candidates is not unlike prospecting for large commercial clients. It is the same type of relationship sale with a long sales cycle. Start with a pre-approach letter and begin a drip marketing process. In sensitivity to the need for a high degree of discretion in these transactions, IIAT has instituted a free Matchmaker Service:
- Seller contacts IIAT about their interest in selling. We try to understand what they want to accomplish in a deal and educate them about the process. If interested in proceeding, we ask them to complete a seller’s profile with as much information as possible without compromising their identity.
- IIAT sends the seller a list of buyers to review and approve. (Get added to the buyer list)
- A “Matchmaker Alert” e-mail is distributed, with the seller profile attached, announcing the opportunity. The alert instructs interested parties to communicate interest via a reply e-mail and to include anything they would want the seller to know about them.
- Buyer e-mails are forwarded to seller who uses them to choose which party or parties to proceed with. In most cases, we are asked to help get a non-disclosure agreement signed before contact information is exchanged.
- At this point, IIAT is usually out of the picture, except to educate either party on the process.