Selecting a Business Broker to Sell Your Company

Mar 26, 2024

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 1st & 2nd rounds of the NCAA tournament in Spokane, Washington.  March Madness was in full form at the site as the Yale Bulldogs beat the higher seeded Auburn Tigers (  I loved witnessing the magic moments that occurred for many young men fulfilling childhood dreams that took over a decade to make realities through countless hours spent and hard work playing & practicing the game in gyms, playgrounds, and at driveway basketball hoops.

The early games of the NCAA tournament are filled with Cinderella stories of glass slippers fitting unexpected teams.   However, as the annual chase of the college basketball championship proceeds, history has demonstrated that the teams with superior talent, experience, and skill will advance to the Final Four and ultimately cut down the nets as champions in an overwhelming larger number than those participating in long shot runs.   Since 1985 when the NCAA basketball tournament expanded to 64 teams and 1 – 16 seeds, 40% of #1 seeds has made the Final Four with 63% of these basketball elite ranked teams emerging as champions at the end.  Assessing the group of teams that have played in the Final Four on the final weekend of the tournament, 81% of the teams in the semi-final games have been a top four seed at the start of the tournament (

The committee that selects and seeds the NCAA basketball tournament evaluates the resumes of over 350 applicants for the D1 tournament.  They do a remarkably good job of crunching the data and evaluating the body of work up to that point of the teams. They also have the margin of error that they can select almost 20% of the teams and do not need to narrow down the choice to a single solitary option.

Unfortunately, an entrepreneur desiring to sell their privately held company or family business does not have the ability to select numerous M&A teams to work on the project, but needs to pick one professional advisory firm to execute the exit strategy.

The following are four metrics that can be used to make the business brokerage firm selection process easier and enhance the probability of a successful business sale outcome.

  1. Historical Performance Two of the #1 seeds in the 2024 NCAA Tournament (Connecticut and North Carolina) have won a combined eleven national championships (  Both programs have a good chance of adding another trophy to their case this year.  In selecting a business brokerage firm for representation in sale, research should be done to evaluate how many transactions the firm has successfully completed.  Additional research should be done related to the number of sales in the industry of a company.  University of Washington played in the college football national championship game this year.   They did not make the cut as one of the top 68 teams in the nation for the basketball tournament.   Using players on a football team to play basketball is not prudent, if victory is desired.  The same is true with using hospitality industry brokers to sell a technology company.
  2. Experience Many of the most successful basketball teams from the 2023 tournament are playing in this year’s tournament. The defending champion, UConn Huskies, are the favorite to repeat as champions.  Fellow #1 seed, the Houston Cougars returns to the tournament after a successful run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2023 with the same coach and many of the same players.  There is no substitute for experience on the basketball court or in facilitating a business sale.  The longevity in the profession of a firm, its executive leadership, and individual intermediaries should be evaluated when selecting a business broker to facilitate the sale of a lifework project and often a substantial component asset necessary to retire in comfort and security.
  3. Talent Execution as a basketball coach or player takes skill. The likely player of the year in college basketball, Zach Edey ( is the reason that Purdue is a #1 seed in the tournament. There is likely no one better to have the fate of your team in their hands this year with time running out of the clock.  The skill set required to be a high performing mergers & acquisitions intermediary is significant.  A top tier business broker has the ability to communicate effectively in multiple environments (Meetings, Phone/Zoom, and Emails), persuade, problem solve, and build consensus of opinions.   Questions should be asked when interviewing a business broker about the toughest deals they have successfully facilitated, the failures they have learned the most from, and their prior achievements in the relevant industry.
  4. Knowledge There is no substitution for knowledge. Knowledge in a basketball context can be found in a head coach, coaching staff, or senior players.  It should be no surprise that coaches like Mark Few of Gonzaga and Rick Barnes of Tennessee advanced their teams once again to the Sweet Sixteen (  In selecting a business broker, the knowledge behind them in an organization should be assessed.  What does the senior leadership of the firm look like?  Have they been in leadership for years or decades?   Have they been successful themselves as a M&A intermediary? Are they still working in the field or disengaged executively managing from up high?

A prudent business owner should interview multiple business brokers in the selection of an intermediary to represent them in a sale.   If the business broker cannot articulate the why to hire them they should not be engaged.  If they talk down competition, one should wonder whether their portrayal of information is accurate or designed to try to diminish a more successful firm to bring them down to their level of aptitude.

As a reference point, IBA has sold over 4300 privately held companies and family businesses since 1975.  It has had the same executive leadership at the helm since 2000.  We are ready & willing to evaluate any business sale representation opportunity in Washington or Oregon?  All conversations with IBA are held in strict confidence.   IBA only seeks compensation for our services upon successfully completion of a business sale project.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, legal, and accounting communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family-owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.