Your position on the headline question could result in a different answer.  Every educator I know would say, “there is never a wrong question.”  What likely they mean is there is never a wrong question on topic, at this moment.

In buying and selling a business, there can be wrong questions or wrong timing of questions and perspective is everything.  Usually the person asking the questions, the majority of the questions is the buyer.  The buyer wants it all, lets for this discussion assume with good intentions.  They would like it all before writing an offer.  The seller can be skeptical that the buyer is really just nosing around with no intent to buy.  The broker wants to get a good prospect as much as possible but does not want to inappropriately burden the seller.

Sometimes sellers can see 10 prospects and not get an offer until number 11.  The giving of information can be a big burden.  A good broker will keep track of the information given and hopefully be able, after the first prospect, reduce the amount the seller has to come up with subsequently.  Though, it seems every buyer has a different set of needs.

These are questions buyers should ask themselves before requiring information pre-offer:

1)  Is the question related to knowing whether to buy?  Leave the personal stuff off the table except why are you selling.  Don’t ask for detail, is there enough info to basically support the asking price or your intended offer?

2) If my offer is contingent on asking for more detail to substantiate what I have seen, do I need to know this now?

The word ‘requiring’ underlined above suggests that the buyer should relax a bit if the seller says ‘I would like to see an offer first.’  The buyer can write an offer contingent on further review.  This shows the seller intent and that the buyer is not a tire kicker.

The seller would benefit from preparing a pre-offer package of items to release to qualified buyers.  It could include a set of three years of detailed financials that, if examined, will support cash flows claimed and perhaps a brief question and answer set of routine questions.

The broker needs to ask the seller for the things the buyer requests and only decline if the seller declines, working to keep the buyer in the transaction.

It is called walking a tight rope, one step at a time.