For some business owners looking to sell their companies to a competitor, the next step after doing the financial benchmarking and calculating valuation is picking a mergers and acquisitions firm to help them find a buyer. Picking the right firm can be a serious investment of time and money, but it's a necessary one that requires careful research, according to Business Insider. When shopping for a representative, observe how the firm presents your company's financial statements and whether the advisor can successfully negotiate around earn-outs and valuation considerations. If any of these indicators reflect less-than-ideal performance on the firm's part, chances are slim that a business owner will get a deal. A few warning signs that will indicate a less-than ideal firm include: The firm won't give a list of references naming CEOs it has served successfully, its pricing involves large one-time fees for valuation and materials preparation or it takes on many assignments but closes on few of them. By performing due diligence through every step of the sales process, business owners looking to sell or acquire a company can have a successful transaction or move into new markets.