Team, Talent and Optimizing the Deal: Critical People Factors for a Successful Business Sale


Program produced by XPX Atlanta.

Trusted advisors and the deal team need to look beyond numbers and operational process, to the people who will lead the company and deliver the value after the sale.

Our 4 panelists come from M&A, Operations, HR, and HR Systems, to bring a comprehensive view of the impact of team and talent on a sale. These expert advisors presented and lead a discussion about the critical people factors that must be considered and addressed in planning for a successful sale.

What we learned:

  • Understand the connection between team, talent, EBITDA and multiples.
  • Know the workforce factors buyers care about when looking at a business.
  • Learn about the people problems advisors uncover when planning for a sale, and how to solve them.

Key topics discussed:

  • Decreasing owner-dependency
  • Retaining top talent
  • The value of leadership and how to cultivate it
  • How high turnover impacts cash flow, customer satisfaction and profit margin
  • Structuring people systems that support a successful sale
  • Can you “save jobs” when sellers care deeply about their people?
  • How to speak with owners about their people challenges
  • Exit Transparency – when to say something to the team, and how


Maria C. Forbes CEO
Chief Engagement Officer
FIREPOWER™ Business Catalyst, LLC.

Maria’s thirty-year consulting career serves privately held business owners and leaders across the U.S. Integrating human capital into growth and continuity planning, Maria rescales tools and processes enjoyed by corporations to help lower middle market businesses develop transferrable value through their biggest asset, their people. With a strong history as a trusted strategic consultant to small business owners, Maria teaches the value of unique human abilities as an ongoing driver to business success. She works with clients to engage the holistic strengths of the workforce as unique contributors to a shared vision. Maria provides expertise in expanding internal capacity through creative alignment of human values, making it possible for owners and key decision makers to lead both their people and their business confidently toward the future. Maria’s expertise is engaged as a guest speaker for radio, professional conferences, and leadership programs around the country. Maria is a Kolbe Certified Consultant, Member of the Society of Human Resource Management Member Human Capital Institute, Board member XPX Atlanta.

Our panel comprises:

Sara Burden
Walden Businesses, Inc.

Sara Burden entered the mergers and acquisitions industry in 1991 and has been actively involved in Walden’s business closings of small to middle market sized companies. While Sara specializes in owner representation, she has also managed unique buyer representations in the national marketplace. She has successfully represented and sold companies with sophisticated high profiles in the service sector, heavy manufacturing, and distribution businesses with equal success. Sara is highly involved in the firm’s valuation services and has been engaged as an expert witness by several of Atlanta’s accounting and legal firms. Her M&A expertise has led her to be a guest speaker for talk radio shows, M&A Source and IBBA Conference instructor/speaker/trainer, as well as participating in numerous business panels and speaking engagements at local and national levels. Sara is President and Owner of Walden Businesses and holds prestigious industry credentials and certifications, including CBI, M&AMI, FIBBA and CM&AP. She has served on the Executive Board of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and currently on the Executive Board for Lexington Crossing Homeowners Association, among others. Sara is also a published author.

Ashley Edwards Altman
Certified Business Performance Advisor

Ashley comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has always had a passion for helping small businesses within the local community. She came to Insperity 5 years ago, after 5 years at one of the fastest growing companies in the country. She started the HR and Recruiting Department, helping the company grow from 40 employees to over 900, while opening 12 additional offices. This growth led to the company being acquired by a private equity firm in a 9-figure deal.

In her 5 years at Insperity she has consistently been recognized as one of the top Business Performance Advisors at the company. Ashley takes pride in helping entrepreneurs focus on their business, while offloading many of the areas that take the focus away from growing their businesses.

Ashley has a Master’s in Counseling from Georgia Southern University and a Bachelor’s in Business and Criminal Justice. This unique skill set has helped set her apart as a trusted advisor and community advocate. Ashley’s a volunteer mentor at the Atlanta Youth Academy, a citywide Tennis champion, and enjoys walks with her dog and husband around the Brookhaven neighborhood.

Wendy Patel
HR Solutions Atlanta

Wendy Patel is the Founder and CEO of HR Solutions Atlanta, a boutique firm offering Fractional HR services. Wendy began her HR career at a global Japanese manufacturing company with 60,000 employees. Using her Japanese speaking skills, she served as the key liaison between the President and the operations team. This is where her passion for helping companies create and maintain an ideal work environment was honed.

With more than 17 years of human resources experience, she provides customized HR solutions to her clients. Wendy helps businesses with all aspects of HR including policy and procedure development and implementation, training, risk prevention, employee handbooks, recruiting, and best practices recommendations. She also coaches new HR professionals to accelerate their learning curve and instill confidence as they begin their new career. When not working, Wendy is an avid Atlanta United soccer fan and enjoys traveling with her family and friends.

Tiffany C. Wright
The Resourceful CEO®

Tiffany C. Wright runs The Resourceful CEO where she currently works as a fractional CXO for larger small businesses and as a restructuring consultant helping firms to properly structure or restructure general and financial operations to achieve owner and company goals. She previously served as interim CFO / COO for multiple B2B firms across different Main Street industries. Tiffany began her career as an intern at GM, then spent 2.5 years each at Honda in the U.S. and Japan. Later, she worked in finance, business development, and strategy positions at Enron, Siebel Systems, and Georgia Institute of Technology. Tiffany has started two firms and purchased one. She is also the author of two small business financing books. Tiffany has a BS in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Ohio State and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Updated: Feb 4, 2023

About the author
Cheryl Centeno of XPX Global is a member of XPX

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