Sip, Sell, Succeed: Hugo Martin's Approach to Business Broking

by Allan Johnson 19th of September, 2023
Sip, Sell, Succeed: Hugo Martin's Approach to Business Broking
Sip, Sell, Succeed: Hugo Martin's Approach to Business Broking

As the dynamic co-host of a weekly online video series that has been running for over four years, Hugo Martin has proved that he is willing to think differently when it comes to business broking.

“My wife encouraged me to start building an online presence back in 2017, and once I got going, I realised that it didn’t need to be complicated - an iPhone and a tripod and we were set. And my daughter got some schoolyard cred for being the only one with a dad who had his own YouTube channel.”

Hugo’s Pinot Friday videos comprise a short discussion of a topical business-related issue followed by a review (and the inevitable tasting) of a quality pinot. “Being able to wind down the week by recording the video and enjoying a drink at the end has become a special and enjoyable experience.”

The videos are now posted on LinkedIn in preference to YouTube to reach an audience more focused on business.




Having pinot as a point of difference for Hugo’s videos is not a coincidence. Before becoming a business broker, he managed fine-dining restaurants in the United Kingdom and then in Australia. Combining his love of fine wine with his love of business (and business broking) made sense.

Hugo joined ABS Business Sales in 2007 as a business broker after operating in the management consulting space, providing advice to small and medium-sized businesses.

During this time, the business added a business broking division to assist clients with suitable exit strategies. This exposure planted the seed, so business broking was an obvious option when he decided it was time for a new challenge.

 “I was keen to apply my experience in the hospitality industry and my broader business experience, so becoming a broker was the ideal fit for me,” commented Hugo.

Since then, Hugo has built an impressive reputation as a business broker across Queensland. He explained, “As you would expect, most of the sales occur in the South-east corner, but I have buyers from all areas of Queensland and Australia together with some from overseas.”

Hugo was the recipient of the coveted Queensland Business Broker of the Year in 2018, which is awarded by the Australian Institute of Business Brokers (AIBB), the peak professional body for business brokers in Australia.

Would you recommend business broking as a career?

“For the right person, business broking is an exciting career opportunity. There is something different happening every day, and the broker’s role is to keep buyers, sellers, and their professional advisers all moving forward to the completion of the sale,” observed Hugo.

“We act as a coordinator to make sure that the needs of both sellers and potential buyers are met quickly.”

So, who is the right person? Hugo considers there are three key attributes a successful broker should possess.

“First, they need to be a people person. All our transactions involve a person dealing with another person, so you need to understand and pay attention to each party's motivation to make sure of the right match. The buyer and the seller will have different motivations, but the broker needs to understand both sides.”

“They need to combine that with a good understanding of sales psychology and sales skills. Sales skills are important everywhere. Whether you are in business, an employee, or even a parent, if you can’t sell, nothing happens. Everyone should have sales training early in their careers.” 

Hugo also considers that business experience is a critical attribute. “A business broker needs to understand how a business owner thinks and the best way to do that is to have been one. Of course, that is not the only way to gain that experience - I know some great brokers without prior business experience. Operating as a business broker is a business itself, and that’s good experience too.”

What education would you recommend?

Each state has statutory requirements to become a licensed business broker. These are the base level for every aspiring broker. Hugo recommends that all business brokers join AIBB.

AIBB offers a range of courses from certificate courses to satisfy each state’s basic licensing requirements, induction training for new business brokers through to obtaining the Certified Practising Business Broker and Registered Business Valuer qualifications.

“Becoming an AIBB member with these qualifications gives you credibility with your peers and clients.”

“I also obtained an MBA,” added Hugo. “It took me two years, but I learned a lot and I still use the information today. It’s certainly not necessary, but I’m glad I did it.”

“AIBB also provides continuing education opportunities to help us stay up-to-date with changes in the industry, and there’s the annual conference too.”

Hugo is an enthusiastic supporter of the annual conference. “I look forward to the conference. It’s an opportunity to learn about current trends in the industry. It’s also an opportunity to catch up with other professionals to renew friendships and understand their solutions to any issues facing the industry. I always come away with at least one idea to implement.”

“The camaraderie between the members strengthens the profession generally and helps us all operate our individual businesses.”

How should a business owner select a broker?

Selecting a broker to facilitate the sale of a business is an important decision in the process of exiting. The business owner must be confident the broker has the profile to attract potential buyers and an understanding of the intricacies of the relevant industry.

Hugo commented, “Like most things these days, recommendations from other business owners (particularly ones who have sold a business) will play a major role in the decision. Many of my clients have been referred to me by former clients. That is very satisfying professionally. It is confirmation that I am meeting the client’s needs.”

“And then they should check out the broker’s online presence. Websites are useful, but the social media presence gives a better idea of personality and approachability. I’ve found my videos to be a major selling point here. Potential clients can watch a few videos and get an idea of what it would be like to work with me.” Pinot anyone?

Like most brokers, Hugo occasionally meets a client he can’t help. “I have no hesitation in referring these to another broker who is more suitable. Knowing who has the skills or industry experience is where the connections I build at conferences help me help any business owners wanting to sell.”  


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And what’s next for Hugo?

Having achieved considerable success as a business broker, Hugo is keen to keep actively promoting his business and the business broking profession. “I have found that activity is the key to building momentum. The more activity I can generate, whether through Pinot Friday, networking with other brokers, or talking to other business owners, momentum builds a successful business.”

With the economy of southeast Queensland set to boom during the lead-up to the 2032 Olympic games, the growth opportunities for local businesses will increase, making it an ideal time for existing businesses to consider an exit strategy.

For Hugo, his unconventional yet effective approach to business broking should inspire anyone seeking a career as a business broker.

His success in this field exemplifies the attributes needed. The blend of being a people person with sales acumen and an intimate understanding of business dynamics is a winning combination. Having the confidence to post videos to your Linkedin account regularly helps too!

Tags: business broker growth selling success entrepreneurs aibb 2023 feature article

About the author

Allan Johnson

As a former accountant and financial planner with almost 50 years in the industry, Allan has a wealth of experience to share. Offering his unique pers ...

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