Culture clash: How your business culture could influence a successful sale

Getting the right price for your hard work is an essential aspect of selling your business, however, many business owners would say that employee and client happiness during and after the sale are equally – if not more – important.

A big contributing factor to the happiness of your team and clients throughout the selling process is how well the cultures of your business and your buyer align.

Read on to learn why finding a buyer with a similar culture is so important in the selling process.

Culture encompasses many aspects of a business

“Business culture” is a bit of a buzzword. According to Google Books Ngram Viewer, its usage spiked in the 90s and early years of the millennium, and has remained a popular phrase ever since. But what does it actually mean?

Generally, business culture encompasses several aspects of how a business is run, and the people within it, such as:

  • Beliefs in how clients should be treated
  • Shared attitudes towards advisers and staff
  • Day-to-day attitudes, actions, and behaviours at an organisation
  • Values of the business.

Finding a culturally aligned buyer can have several major benefits

There are a number of positives for you, your employees, and your clients to finding a buyer whose business culture aligns with your own.

In terms of your employees, finding a buyer who is a good cultural fit can help with staff retention. According to Advisor Hub, 9 in 10 advisers say their firm’s culture is important to them.

Clients also benefit from a culture match. Clients don’t just build a relationship with you and your business; they also build a relationship with your ethos. A dramatic shift in approach can put them off and be quite an unpleasant experience for them.

Typically, if the cultures of the two businesses are similar, the transition is probably going to be smoother for your clients and employees. It can also be easier for you. A good cultural fit can also make the after-period – during which the seller works with the purchaser to integrate the two businesses – much more pleasant for everyone concerned.

Determining if a buyer has a good cultural fit can be a challenge

To assess whether a potential buyer is a good cultural fit, you may find it helpful to engage with them in-person, but after you’ve received an indicative offer. This could involve visiting their offices, talking with their team (meet the people you’d be working with and who would be looking after your clients!), asking them questions, and observing their work environment. You then need to carefully consider whether the culture you’ve seen would be suitable for your clients and employees.

The “Tesco test” can be a good gauge of how successful a sale could be. Would you be able to stop and talk to an old client or colleague in the supermarket after the sale has gone through without feeling embarrassed?

Understanding if a buyer has a good cultural fit can be a challenge. Seeking the help of professionals (like The Exit Partnership) makes the process easier and leads to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Get in touch

At Melo, we specialise in helping sellers like you find the best buyer for your company. Email or call 0113 4656 111.


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