The biggest issues with finding the right buyer is more than simply deciding whether you what to sell to a private equity group, or another business. It is more than finding someone who has the money and wants to close the deal. You need to find someone who is capable of closing a deal and adding value to the business as they carry it forward. You also want to find someone who is not going to play vulture capitalism and do whatever they can to make money regardless of the short-term consequences. Many business owners have developed close and personal relationships with their employees, while it is sometime necessary to let some employees go, you want to make sure the majority of your employees will be taken care of.
Prior to the 2012 elections President Obama had the chance to meet directly with many of the world leaders to discuss the challenges facing the world. I personally believe this was a mistake. Not because of politics, but because of the chance he had to be personal with those individuals. This is the same reason it is important for a buyer and a seller to meet at some point during the process rather than just making a phone calls. Get off the phone and go meet. When a two people sit down for lunch, or hit 18 holes at the golf course they really get a sense as to whether or not the other person has the capacity to close a deal, perform the due diligence, and carry the business forward after the transaction. There is something about meeting in person that is much more effective than making a phone call. I once spoke with a buyer that mentioned that his lunch appointment with a business seller was worth one hundred phone calls. I concur with his statement.
Once a meeting is over and both parties really start to build a relationship with each that relationship becomes priceless in the closing process. If a friendship is not formulated or developed then when issues arise during the negotiations and structuring of the deal, the other party will be less likely to work with the issues and the deal is more likely to fall apart.