888-983-1617 [email protected]

The CEO’s Role in Selling Their Company

As an investment banker, I have helped many CEOs and owners sell their businesses. And I have seen a huge difference in the result when a CEO is directly involved in the sales process versus when they are not. Thank you to Small Business Currents for having me!

Read the article in PDF.

The number of small businesses being bought or sold is continuing to climb back to its pre-COVID level, according to BizBuySell’s Insight Report. Additionally, sellers are increasingly confident that they will get a good offer, and 28% of owners plan to sell in the coming year.

Perhaps you’re thinking about selling your company. The mergers and acquisition world can seem overwhelming, especially for those selling their business for the first time. It’s hard to know where to start and what needs to happen to ensure the process is successful, which is why many business owners seek the assistance of experts. However, that doesn’t mean that the CEO or owner should be hands-off. In fact, a successful business sale often requires their active participation.

As an investment banker, I have helped many CEOs and owners sell their businesses. And I have seen a huge difference in the result when a CEO is directly involved in the sales process versus when they are not.


The CEO sets the vision for the company and knows the logic behind the decisions that got the company to its where it is now. That makes them uniquely qualified to talk about the company’s future.

Potential buyers or investors will want to hear the CEO’s ideas about what happens after the sale or the benefits that the two merging companies can realize together. The CEO can also provide insight around how the company will handle new ownership, structural changes and forthcoming developments in the market.

CEOs are aware of their sector’s landscape and have a sense of where things are trending. They know influencers, suppliers, competitors and others in their industry — and they’ve probably had hundreds or thousands of networking conversations over the years. Those connections may help them find viable prospects, or even be the potential buyer they’re looking for.


Even if they have not been involved with M&A before, CEOs understand how to sell. And that’s what M&A requires — putting the same intense effort into selling a company that you would use to sell your products or services.

As with selling a product or service, it’s crucial to not put all one’s proverbial eggs in one basket. If only one investor or buyer is considered, and the deal falls through, everyone will end up back at square one. That can take some excitement out of the process and elongate the timeline for completing the transaction.

Instead, the sale of the company should be handled like the sales process within the company. There should be a pipeline of prospects who are being spoken to regularly and methodically. Then, if one doesn’t work out, you will know there are other options to consider. On top of that, having other prospects in your back pocket gives you more leverage at the negotiating table.


While CEOs bring a lot of skills and value to the M&A process, they can’t do everything on their own. For one thing, there simply is not enough time to run a business effectively while also trying to manage the sale of it. An M&A expert will have more experience with the process, be able to better negotiate the deal and know how to handle any complications.

It’s also important to consider the emotions that may be stirred up during the sales process. CEOs and other company partners may get concerned about what will happen next in their careers. Some may take a role in the newly combined company, or they may use their earnings to start a new venture. It’s also possible for CEOs to be nervous about it being public knowledge that the company is for sale, fearful of negative reactions from clients or people in their industry. However, most customers understand that businesses sell and merge. Plus, it may actually look odder if the company owner wasn’t planning to sell, especially if they are nearing retirement age.

There are many questions and considerations related to selling a company, which is why it’s good to have help. An investment banking professional can provide sound counsel and help CEOs and owners navigate the sales process. When CEOs add their expertise and skills to the knowledge and guidance of an M&A expert, all stakeholders will benefit.

3 Signs an M&A Deal Is in Trouble

Read the article in CFO.Spotting signs of trouble early is critical for CFOs to prevent a deal from derailing. Not every CFO will experience M&A firsthand during their career. But those who do typically find that their existing skillset makes them a crucial asset...

4 Tips for Pitching Investors in Today’s Economy

Read the article in CFO.Any company that intends to grow past a certain point eventually reaches the familiar milestone of pitching to private capital sources in hopes of securing additional funding. Those businesses that tend to be most successful are the ones that...

Resolving Conflicts in a Family Business

Read the article in Small Business Current.When family members run a business together, the experience often draws them closer, but there are inherent risks as well. Having years of personal history with one’s co-workers can sometimes lead to non-work disputes...

Oaklyn Consulting Congratulates Proof of the Pudding on Acquisition by Bruin Capital

Oaklyn Consulting congratulates Atlanta-based catering, food service and event company Proof of the Pudding on its recent acquisition by Bruin Capital. Oaklyn Consulting assisted Proof of the Pudding in evaluating potential partners and negotiating the transaction....

Analyzing Broad vs. Narrow M&A Deal Processes

We respect the unique M&A market insights that Sutton Place Strategies, an affiliate of Bain & Company, creates from its business development work with PE firms. SPS Founder and CEO Nadim Malik gave a presentation at ACG Boston's M&A Outlook forum in...

How To Work Through Conflicts In a Family Business

Creating a family business comes with a lot of positives, as well as a lot of challenges. Here’s how to handle those conflicts as they arise. Thanks to The American Genius for having me! Read the article in PDF.Anyone who’s managed a business with other family members...

Takeaways from Axial’s Recent ‘Dead Deals’ Analysis

Those of us who negotiate M&A transactions for, and with, small- to mid-sized businesses know a few hallmarks of the process: For any company, there is a limited universe of buyers. Each buyer's interest is unique, so average valuations are not reliable indicators...

Who We Helped in 2022

At the start of every year, we at Oaklyn Consulting like to look back at the past 12 months to reflect on projects accomplished and lessons learned from our clients. Building on our achievements from 2021, Oaklyn Consulting worked with 34 organizations in 2022 on...

Monty Bruell Interview with Business Radio X

Our Monty Bruell sat down with Business Radio X to discuss succession planning in minority and women-owned businesses. Listen on Spotify or Amazon Music or read the transcript below!INTRO: Broadcasting live from the business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it's...

Succession Planning for Minority and Female Business Owners

For the founders of minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs), succession planning takes on a deeper significance. Our Monty Bruell explains in a guest column for Memphis Business Journal. Read the article in PDF.Any entrepreneur approaching retirement has...