How to Buy a “Not-for-Sale” Company: Sell Your Vision

As an M&A consultant, I’m often asked exactly how we persuade the owners of not-for-sale companies to sell.  My years of experience speaking with owners and facilitating acquisitions makes the process easier, but the real secret is understanding owner psychology.

In contacting an owner, you can’t lay out a detailed acquisition plan. The key is selling your vision, not your plan. The owner won’t sell the company over the phone but may be willing to listen to a credible partner with a strategic vision for the future.

This means you must give credibility to your vision, by demonstrating the depth of your knowledge. This is where exhaustive market and company research comes in. Sometimes the biggest return on your investment in research appears in the first few moments on the phone with an owner. Your understanding of the owner’s role in the company’s history, strengths, and business environment establishes a personal link that could lead to a successful acquisition.

*This post was adapted from David Braun’s Successful Acquisitions, available at

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