To kick-off our seller meetings-themed week, I wrote about the top three questions you need to ask every seller on every deal… every time.

Today I want to take a step back and discuss TCRS. I’ve talked about this a lot in Confessions and my training programs because it’s just THAT important to our style of dealmaking.

So what does TCRS mean?

TCRS is an acronym for trust, credibility, rapport and a safe pair of hands.

Let’s go through them individually…


This is MASSIVE. The seller needs to implicitly trust you in order to sell you their business… especially if your deal includes seller financing, which is a big part of the financing structure for all leveraged buy-out (LBO) deals.

If the seller doesn’t trust you, you can’t expect them to carry part of the deal price into the future.

You earn the trust of a highly motivated seller who’s either unable or unwilling to continue ownership by showing passion for their business and industry, knowledge of how it operates and the drivers within, and concrete plans for growing, optimizing and taking the business to the next level.


Credibility flows from trust. It’s all about staying in your lane. If you are a sales manager at IBM, you should seek to acquire a small technology company. Every seller will welcome you with open arms — you work for IBM after all.

You wouldn’t try to buy a vineyard, at least not by yourself. Especially for your first deal, ALWAYS originate deals in your sector of expertise and stick to that.

If you are sick and tired of the technology industry and love the prospect of drinking wine every day, PLEASE go partner with someone who knows that business model and can help you both close a deal AND run the business.


Rapport is all about building a relationship — a friendship even — with the seller,. The seller needs to know, like and trust you. It’s really important.

When the deal gets stuck — which it usually does at some point —you can leverage your relationship to get the deal back on track.

Due diligence often surfaces some issues. Leverage your relationship to explain what that means for the numbers and deal value… and that another buyer will inevitably come to the SAME conclusion.

If the seller gets cold feet, you should leverage your relationship to remind them of why they are selling and why you are the perfect buyer.

What is the best way to build rapport?

Simple. Ask tons of questions and really get to know the seller:

Find parallels with your own life and build genuine connections.

You both scuba-dived off the coast of Cancun? Great. You can swap stories.

Both raving fans of the Red Sox? Great. Ask about their favorite memory. For me it was the 2004 whitewash of the St. Louis Cardinals (Yes, I’m a Red Sox fan… sorry!)

On Friday, I will tell you the story of an occasion where I created such amazing rapport with a seller that he offered his business to me 100% deferred — no financing and no closing payment.

Safe Pair of Hands

When you meet a seller they will fall into one of two camps.

They are either a happy and driven entrepreneur looking to sell at the peak for maximum cash.

As I explained last time, that’s NOT your perfect seller. That seller will likely sell to a trade buyer, as in a competitor.

YOUR perfect seller is the tired, frustrated entrepreneur or pre-retiree who LOVES their business and wants a safe pair of hands to take it over. They are horrified that a competitor might:

You wouldn’t believe how important a NAME can be to some sellers. Check out this video I recorded on this very subject when visiting my pregnant daughter in Wales.

So that’s TCRS. A very important acronym you should learn and deploy every time you meet a seller.

Look out for the video in a few days about how I negotiated away a $1 million closing payment all because of a $30 gift.

Until then, bye for now.

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