How Do I Sell a Company Confidentially and Get the Highest Price?

Guest Submission by IBA, originally featured on
Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association Blog

The sale of a privately held company or family business has a unique marketing challenge.  On one level, similar to selling any product, it is in the seller’s best interest to have the maximum number of potential buyers know the business is for sale and to engage with as many parties as possible.  The market dynamic principles of supply and demand convey that the higher the demand and the lower the supply, the better the price a product can be sold.  In the case of a business sale, the supply is one and the opportunity to purchase is unique for a specific time & place and may not be available again for a long time.

Now the challenge. In the sale of a business, most owners desire to have no one know that their company is for sale prior to the transaction being completed.  This desire (or should I say fear that keeps entrepreneurs up at night) is motivated by concern about how the information will be received by customers, employees, and vendors. The last thing an entrepreneur wants is to have staff turnover, customers revisit an existing relationship, or competitors take advantage of the situation. The good news is that business buyers seeking an acquisition are aligned with sellers in wanting the information a business is for sale to be held in strict confidence. This is motivated by a desire to retain customers, employees, and vendor relationships.

Reconciliation of these directly conflicting elements requires knowledge, experience, and skill. Knowledge is employed in the development of a comprehensive marketing program that attracts the maximum number of qualified parties while maintaining an environment of strict confidence.  It is beneficial to engage a business brokerage firm with experience selling companies in the relevant industry and geographic area, as they may already know potential buyers.  It is prudent to use a mergers & acquisitions intermediary with processes and legal documentation in place that will allow only financially qualified parties with sincere interest in an acquisition to learn a company is for sale.  Most of all it is critical to hire a broker with the skill to navigate the process from justification of the maximum possible sale price to confidential, competitive market creation with the ability to successfully negotiate the best possible outcome and facilitate the deal to closing with the least amount of transactional turbulence. There is no substitute for knowledge, experience, and skill in a professional advisor.  Seek the best and you will get the best outcome.

​IBA has successfully sold more companies in the Pacific Northwest than any other company.  We are licensed to sell real estate in Washington & Oregon.  All communication with is held in strict confidence.  100% of IBA’s fees are performance based.

Additional information on IBA can be found at Joseph Hollcraft, an ORLA Allied Partner and this blog’s author, can be reached at 503-739-4880; or Gregory Kovsky, IBA’s President & CEO, can be reached at (425) 454-3052, [email protected], [email protected], or


— This guest blog was submitted by IBA. For more information on guest blog opportunities, contact Marla McColly, Business Development Director, Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association.


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