The world of middle market investment banking is very much a blend of old fashioned handshakes and state of the art marketing technology and both have a very real place and purpose in the anatomy of every transaction. Business owners select an M&A consultant much like they choose an attorney or accountant. They want to know their consultant has the right knowledge, skills and experience to represent them in the transaction. This usually begins with a face to face meeting and an open and frank discussion of key goals and objectives. New technology has not changed this part of the selection/selling process and future technology will not likely do so.
However, in many ways new technology has advanced the way we market a business for sale. The internet and use of online databases has streamlined the buyer selection process. Individual password protected microsites created specifically for each offering are a fantastic way for potential buyers to preview a business for sale. Once a buyer has signed the required confidentiality documents, they can log into a website which houses information they will need to get a good “feel” for the business they may be considering. The microsite tracks each time a visitor logs in, so a seller can easily determine the level of interest from a prospective buyer. Certain industries (i.e.: manufacturing) lend themselves nicely to “video tours”. Without jumping on a plane, a buyer can see what the facility looks like, how it operates, various stages of the manufacturing process and the final product output. An interview with the CEO is also a way to get to know the company before deciding to visit the site. When the business has multiple locations or multiple owners, video is a great way to get acquainted with the company
Virtual data room (VDR) technology has also helped to streamline the marketing/selling process. During due diligence, access to deal documents is vital. Using a VDR, accessing the necessary files is convenient, secure and efficient. For most sales transactions, the documents can number in the hundreds. Using a VDR, each user has access to the most up to date versions of deal documents and should the documents change, e-mail notifications can be sent automatically to alert parties to the change. The documents are all stored in the cloud and can be accessed via computer at any time of day or night.
New technology has streamlined the selling process. It has made M&A professionals more efficient and can reduce the time it takes to advance through the various stages of the process itself. Though a vital tool, technology does not replace the trust, guidance, and dedication an M&A Advisor brings to the table.