For many very good reasons, deal making has traditionally been thought of as something that requires at least one, if not more, face-to-face meetings. In a world that is increasingly moving online, the size, sensitivity and nature of a company sale still draws the question; do you need to meet face-to-face to sell a company?
Over the last year, enforced restrictions on travel and physical meetings have forced many businesses, ours included, to adapt to a different way of working. The truth is though that the need to do business face-to-face has not been a real limiting factor for several years.
You would be forgiven for thinking of video conferencing as a fairly recent invention. But the truth is that it has been around in some form since AT&T introduced the first commercial system at the World Fair in New York in 1964 – the first video phone is even earlier than that coming out of Bell Labs in 1927.
There is no doubt it has developed rapidly in the last few months and years to meet demand, and over the past year usage has soared. But don’t be fooled, business has been trending this way for years and the adaption required to move deal meetings online was actually easier than you might have imagined. Deals are now being done where every meeting has been conducted entirely online.
Speed of Transactions
A major positive to come out of this move to online has been the speed with which transactions can be done. Without the need to travel and book accommodation and meeting rooms, timelines can be shortened, and diaries are easier to align.
Paperwork – due diligence
Any transaction as major as acquiring a business will generate a significant volume of information; accounts, sales figures and projections, personnel records, inventory, client information… the list goes on.
Before the days of computers and internet a common strategy was to hire a room, usually neutral territory, where all of the paperwork could be deposited and poured over. Not massively subtle maybe, but it did ensure a high level of security and control over sensitive data.
The world has moved on and most of this information is stored electronically anyway. Virtual Data Rooms are now employed to do the same job. And in a world where physical meetings are restricted it has become important for even the simplest transactions.
Signing the deal
Surely one part of the deal making process can’t be done without meeting face-to-face… signing the deal. But here again the evolution of technology is way ahead of us in meeting the challenges of today. The development of and legal legitimacy of electronic signatures is now well established and has been legally recognised in the UK since 2002. When it comes to final deal completion, this allows advisory teams to support buyers and sellers to complete deals in a compliant way without meeting.
So, do you need to meet face-to-face to sell a company? Absolutely not, and you don’t need to take my word for it… good deals are still being done across the market, both local and international.
If you’re thinking about your exit strategy, why not consider having a video meeting with one of our directors to discuss your situation in total confidence – we can even provide a guide valuation.