When you finally say to yourself, I want to sell my marketing agency, you may think that things will move quickly. But the reality is that the waiting can be long and is often the hardest part. Normally – the Merge M&A timeline in its entirety is 4-6 months. However, knowing exactly what happens before, during, and after a sale should provide the transparency you need to help you manage the process. Below, we help you understand the necessary steps – and the expected timeline attached to each of them – so that you can get a clear understanding of how long it takes to sell your marketing agency.

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Sanity Check

First things first. Before you jump into the deep end and run the risk of amping up the expectations, you may want to ensure that you are ready to sell in the first place. Has your agency been showing sustainable growth year-over-year? Are your margins raising eyebrows or just red flags? Are you delivering an EBITDA of $500k and up? 

The M&A Timeline to Triumph

While there is some flexibility around the exact duration of each element required to make the sale of your agency a success, the process that will take you there is very defined. In its entirety, the Merge M&A process is typically 4-6 months. Here is the step-by-step:
  • Initially, there is a valuation period before any agency owner enters the circle of sellers. This period requires the vetting of financials to get an accurate picture of what’s to offer. Once a price is agreed upon, the listing agreement is prepped and signed before a listing goes live. Expect this readying stage to take up to 1 week. 
  • Once your listing is live, it’s showtime! We do our homework to identify your perfect buyer profile before we scour our network to identify potential prospects. We give this stage a solid month to generate enough leads in order to begin issuing a first term sheet.
  • Once there is a genuine offer in place, expect a further two weeks to transform those initial leads into a detailed LOI. 
  • Finally, turning a serious buyer’s intention into a closed deal will take…well, it will take the time it takes, really. The due diligence timeline is correlated with a buyer’s thoroughness and a seller’s previous processes. As a benchmark, we attach an expected duration of 45-90 days – but that can move in either direction. This timeline can improve with more sophisticated buyers that have gone through this before. In addition, the required paperwork to close a deal will be produced during this 45-day window, which takes into account a small buffer for the required back and forth.

M&A Timelines Vary

Depending on the buyer's experience and buyer type, the pace of the process can move in either direction as well. Strategic buyers with an eye for an operational fit will typically move faster while entrepreneurial types will take more time as they are likely entertaining more options. Financial buyers will put their targets through a Quality of Earnings report (think of this like a mini-audit), which can add another 3-5 weeks to the process. Beyond getting the alignment right, which is something out of a seller’s hands, a seller can help shorten the M&A timeline as well. If a buyer and seller remain in agreement with the initial closing docs, and if a seller is well-organized and on top of his operations and financials during the due diligence process, this will help drive up confidence and drive down duration.

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