Although a well-managed M&A process will provide adequate confidentiality safeguards to assure word does not leak regarding the potential sale of your company, you still need to be prepared to address this should it arise.  When you as the CEO are approached by an employee or customer, you can quickly and confidently respond with the following logic:

  1. We have built a very successful company, leading our industry, and we attract frequent attention from potential strategic acquirers as well as investor groups, so it is no surprise that you may have heard something.
  2. We have from time to time evaluated the pros and cons of strategic alliances and also bringing in outside capital as a way to fund growth.
  3. Our management team is very sensitive to the relationship it has with its customers, vendors and staff, and will continue to make decisions that should benefit all and not disrupt a business we each have an interest in.

This logic works whether we are talking to employees or customers or vendors, and best of all, it is truthful. Still, it's best to practice saying this so you are not caught off guard.