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How to Recognize the Screener When Making Target M&A Calls

Screeners. It can be the name of your own personal horror when calling a potential M&A Buyer or Seller for an M&A deal. Screeners are the people who get in the way of you and your intended target.

Screeners usually come in two distinct flavors: those who are hopelessly clueless and the dedicated doer of evil.

The hopelessly clueless

At big companies, the person answering the general phone line is clueless about who you need to talk to. That person is either a receptionist at the front desk or (if it’s a really huge company) a call center employee. They know nothing that can help you. You need to move on as quickly as possible.

Many times, these people go through the motions. They hate their mind-numbingly boring jobs and just want to get rid of you and your pesky questions as soon as possible.

Those who act like decision-makers

Companies are full of personalities. You have the boss, you have the workers, and you have workers who think they’re the boss. Speaking with the boss is ideal, although talking to an employee is acceptable if that person can route you to the appropriate decision-maker.

The problem arises when you fall in to the trap of a non-decision-maker who acts like a decision-maker.

These people are usually lower-level employees such as associates and receptionists. Their intentions may be good — they’re trying to do their jobs — but they’re ultimately overreaching and making decisions when they have no authority to.

The dedicated doer is evil because he inhibits business and growth by throwing up roadblocks left and right. Trying to extricate yourself from the clutches of a dedicated doer is difficult because they can be so exhausting! They have little to do and worse, they’re often so fearful of doing something wrong that everything they do to prevent doing something wrong turns out to be wrong!

How can you avoid getting stuck with a nondecision-maker who is suddenly acting like one? Do your homework. If you know exactly who you need to talk to, you can call that person directly. Worst-case scenario, you can tell the receptionist exactly who you need to talk to without requiring him to do any strenuous work.

Ultimately, if you get stuck in an endless loop of dedicated doers of evil, it’s your own darn fault for not preparing more thoroughly.

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