What does a prospective buyer look for when evaluating a deal for the first time?

Keith Dee, President of Osage Advisors, sits down with Jim Young, a senior member of Osage’s team, to discuss how as a buyer you might decide if a deal is the right fit for your business, including if your company is publicly held.

The Right Fit

There are two main aspects a buyer should consider – beyond financial metrics – when determining whether a deal is the right fit: 1) product line fit and 2) strategic fit. Product line refers to whether the seller is selling a product or business that fits with your company’s existing product line. Would the acquisition of this company make sense for your business?

Strategic fit refers to whether the product(s) will complement your existing product line and if it aligns well with your company’s distribution channel. By identifying a strong strategic fit, you’ll know that you can take care of the product and business once it has its new home. If you get a sense that this might not work well with your business, then that is a strong indicator that this might not be the right deal.


A company often looks to acquire another organization when it is looking to broaden revenue or generate revenue faster than they can achieve with their existing infrastructure. As the buyer, once you have identified potential opportunities and determined which are the right fit, you can rank them to determine which few will really help your business reach its financial goals. If you are looking to be acquired, on the other hand, there’s no better advantage than a strong financial position.


A company’s reputation, especially if being considered by a public company, is an extremely important factor when evaluating a deal. If a company’s reputation doesn’t make you feel comfortable or is questionable in any way, you may decide on another business that showcases better in the public’s eye. On the other side, the seller will want to make sure that their buyer has a strong reputation and that there is positivity surrounding any previous acquisitions. This makes both sides more comfortable in moving forward.


To boost your reputation and appear trustworthy to the seller, transparency is key – especially if the seller has never been through a transaction before. By being open and honest about your business, which includes acknowledging any flaws, you can establish a baseline of faith with the seller. Developing a rapport is also something to keep in mind so the seller understands where they would fit in your organization, who they’d work with and why becoming part of your company would benefit them. It’s a bit of an interview process that goes both ways. Both sides of the table want to do what’s best for their business and that will only happen if both buyer AND seller are smart about finding the right home for the deal.

Certainty to Close

At the end of the day, the goal is to get the deal done. Sellers feel more comfortable with deals when they are structured in a way that doesn’t rely on too many contingencies. If your company is a public company, then you will pay 100 percent cash at closing. There is rarely a financing contingency in deals involving most public companies, which eliminates uncertainty in getting the deal successfully closed.

This post was adapted from our YouTube episode and podcast.