“One In Five Sales Successes Isn’t Good Enough” by Mike Whittle

Business Insights

Mike is a seasoned director with over twenty years’ experience across multiple industries, successfully shaping and deploying strategy and delivering business value.

An experienced c-level negotiator, problem solver and strategist, Mike initially joined EvolutionCBS as a Senior Client Director. He has since led a significant number of multi-million-pound deals and projects to a successful conclusion..

In July 2019, Mike took over as UK Managing Director of EvolutionCBS and now oversees the day-to-day running of the business.

Ask anyone who’s gone through the process of selling a business and they’re likely to say that it took longer than they thought, and they didn’t get what they hoped for pricewise. Four out of five of them will even say that after months of preparing for sale, they didn’t get one.

In the Mergers and Acquisitions mass market, that’s what you can expect. Some agencies go into the process expecting a one in five success rate, so they throw a lot of names into the ‘Funnel of Hope’ and cross their fingers that a few prospects will come out the other end. The more that do, so the logic goes, the better the likelihood of an offer or two.

Is that good enough for sellers today, though?

Frankly, I don’t think so. If you’re thinking of selling now, the reality is that you’re likely to end up being one of the four businesses that pays for the success of the lucky fifth one.

One in five sales successes is definitely not good enough.


When our founder, Rob Goddard, set up EvolutionCBS, he resolved to do things differently. He took the funnel idea and turned it on its head, placing fewer, well-chosen names in the mix. He crafted a premium, ‘hand-guided’ service for clients which resulted in their securing a higher number of prospects.

His vision was a focused, process-driven method that works. If you want that sale, you need to find an honest partner who’s willing to go the extra mile with you and think differently. It’s a time-consuming, costly process, so go into it with your eyes wide open.

We know that this process is not a pure numbers game: it’s more human and emotional than that. We commit to two main practices that we have tried and tested over the years:


    As far as you, the seller, are concerned, are you emotionally ready to sell? Have you searched your motives properly and prepared yourself for the big change that’s about to happen?

    Is your business itself ready? Are your monthly accounts up to date? Have you unfinished developments within your team, systems and product lines?

    Lastly, do you have realistic expectations? Most sellers want to sell their business for more than it’s worth. It follows that buyers want to buy it for less than it may be worth. . Don’t go to market with an unrealistic idea of the real value of your business. Be willing to see things objectively; if you’re not ready to go to market, don’t. Otherwise, your time, money and possibly opportunity will be wasted.


    Your team should really understand your business and the value you represent. It’s perfectly possible to work up a target list of between fifty and one hundred carefully selected potential buyers from market research.

    Each of these should be contacted, giving you between ten or fifteen meaningful conversations. It’s a lot more groundwork than is common in the M&A mass market, but in our experience, you should be able to expect about four offers from that. Four offers will increase your odds for success dramatically from the current, mass market standard.


While many businesses have suffered since March 2020 due to the pandemic, a significant number have positively flourished. Those that we’ve seen sell this year have met their desired prices.

It’s not down to luck: those who have been able to think frugally and with agility have found ways to reinvent areas of their businesses.

You can take your business to market, too. You need a strong adviser who knows where the landmines are. Someone who will take your hand and guide you the whole way – especially when it comes to ‘Due Diligence’.

Don’t be discouraged by external factors if you have a business sales team who can guide you through each step of the sales process.

Here’s to your successful sale.

EvolutionCBS is a long-established, Reading-based business sale consultancy with an enviable track record of success. Supporting business in any sector and any region within the UK, EvolutionCBS finds buyers from around the world through highly targeted research. The company’s service is focused on business sales of between £5m - £40m with an average transaction size of £14m.

Mike Whittle

Managing Director



0118 959 8224