M&A – Do your research

I’ve had an ongoing series running on my blog dealing with various topics related to mergers and acquisitions (link to the full serieshere). As part of that group of posts, Daniel Benel wrote a  guest column from his perspective as an m&a professional at Verint. Yesterday he dropped me the following note: I was in a negotiation last week where the bankers on the other side had googled me and found my blog posting on your site and then started complaining that I NEVER believe projections! I thought it was pretty funny — not sure if it helped or hurt. While it’s amusing that this happened it brings up a good point about preparing for any negotiation (or fundraising pitch or customer meeting, etc.) which is that you should take a little time to figure out who it is you are meeting with. Sounds obvious, but sometimes the obvious advice is the best advice (plus I’d say that this level of preparedness is the exception rather than the norm in my experience).

Most people won’t go out on a blind date without Googling their prospective dinner partner. Don’t walk into a meeting – particularly one as important as a negotiating session to buy or sell a business – without doing some prep work. Figure out what they like; what they’ve written about; what books they are reading; what articles have been written about them; where they went to school; who they know that you know; etc. Then use this information wisely to make a better connection with the people you are dealing with. A little upfront work can lead to large dividends around the negotiating table.

  • James

    This is a great point, one that often is only mentioned when giving advice to someone speaking to large audiences. I just listened to a pitch yesterday for a medical software company and the entrepreneur spent half his time giving me background on the needs and pain areas for physicians. Had he known of my medical experience and experience in life science investing he could have saved his time and better addressed me. This certainly revealed to me that he did not take the time to know his audience…
    On the other extreme, when you are on the other side of the table, it can sometimes be scary if the person knows too much about you (one of the drawbacks of the google era)…