Selling a Call Center in Distress

You have acknowledged that your business is in distress, and the best course of action is to sell your call center. The sale of a struggling business often goes by the term distressed sale. A distressed sale is when a company can no longer meet its financial requirements and, within six months, will be unable to operate.

For years, you worked hard to build your answering service into something that made you proud. But perhaps you made a tactical error, or a health issue tore you away. These things happen. Or maybe the instigating problem was outside your control: a financial downturn at an inopportune time, a key employee who left with staff and clients to start a competing service, or your accountant embezzled your cash reserves. Though we hope against experiencing these crises, they do occur.

You now have to sell, and it will be challenging. Though your distressed answering service won’t get you much money, following these tips will allow you to make the best of the situation and exit as gracefully as possible.

Seek Help When Selling a Call Center

When selling a call center, especially a distressed business, a crucial early step will be enlisting the help of a trusted expert to guide you through the sales process. Your chances of securing a successful sale will be significantly improved with the help of an experienced agent with a track record of marketing and selling distressed companies. This professional help will also be vital in gaining a valuation of your business. A valuation of your business and its assets will provide you with a cost, demonstrable, and potentially sizable figure with which you can enter into negotiations with potential buyers.

Another option is a hands-off approach, where you hire someone to find the right buyer and manage the sale. This may be the best way to go if you are emotionally and physically beat. Either way, seek someone who will take care of you as a person and not take advantage of your situation.

Envision Your Role After Selling a Call Center  

In the perfect world, what is your exit strategy? Selling a call center in a distressed state is not the perfect world, but you can exit in the way you prefer. Maybe you want to walk away. That’s okay. But you may need a job. What part of the business do you like? You may be great at customer service or have an impressive sales closing ratio. You may love the technology side or are at your best when training new operators. Yes, it is hard to become an employee at a company you once owned, but if you can make the transition, it might be a great fit and provide a needed paycheck. Whatever you envision as your role, it’s best to know in the early stages, as it can help guide decision-making.

Identify The Type of Sale

If your business is distressed, you only have a limited window before insolvency. You need to work fast and determine what kind of sale you will make before selling your call center. Determine what is important to you: a quick exit, an ongoing role in the buyer’s organization, or making some profit. There are several options, so figure out what you want and which route will get you there.

A. Open Market Sale

If your call center still has sufficient working capital while you seek a buyer, a sale on the open market may be the ideal scenario. An open market sale is an option for attaining a reasonable price and finding a buyer committed to helping turn the business around. You can walk away with a small profit and keep a role.

B. Merger or Acquisition

Contacting a merger and acquisition firm can get the ball rolling right away. However, be prepared to sell your company for little to no profit, even if you have some assets left. You should also be ready to have no involvement in the company anymore. In these deals, the CEO and leadership are often left behind in an effort for a fresh start, especially if the business is in trouble. This path might be one of the most emotionally difficult, but it’s most likely to help your employees keep their jobs.

C. Partial Sale

One option that can help ease distress in your call center is a partial sale. A partial sale can either negate a total sale or allow you to postpone it long enough to help your company recover and increase its value. The deal could be selling a market segment your call center serves or a minority stake in the business. If your priority is to stay in the call center business, this could be your option.

Selling a distressed call center is difficult, but with the right support, you can do it confidently. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at or 800-901-7706 to arrange a private consultation about buying or selling an answering service.