Business sale consultants can take on many different forms, but generally there are three broad classes of professional advisors – main street (referred to as business brokers), middle market, and large transaction. The primary differences between the groups revolve around deal size and methodology. Main street business brokers typically focus on deal sizes with a value under $1,000,000. Middle market firms focus on deals up to $100,000,000. Large transaction firms handle deals over $100,000,000.
Methodology relates to the process and systems employed by the advisor while selling the business. Main street firms employ a process akin to real estate sales, relying on “business opportunity” advertisements and sharing deals with other main street brokerage firms. Middle market firms are characterized by heavy pre-sale planning and proactive marketing outreach. They are focused on researching the marketplace to identify strategic buyers and executing a comprehensive and confidential marketing campaign to attract interest. Large transaction firms employ a financial engineering methodology. Most of the time is spent on pre-sale planning and deal structure. Frequently, the ability to create financial synergy is the motivating factor behind large deals.
As with any industry, there are both quality firms and inferior firms. Main street, middle market and large transaction firms each have their own strengths and unique positions in the marketplace. The question is not which type of firm is better, but which one is best suited for your specific deal. After you determine which type of firm has the best fit, next you consider the individual M&A firms criteria for help in choosing a specific business sale advisor.