4 Proven Strategies to Attract and Engage Successful Owners in Exit Planning

A common challenge we hear from the advisors we talk to is getting the attention of owners so they take action in Exit Planning. Advisors who have developed successful Exit Planning practices understand that they must attract and continue to stay engaged with their clients throughout the life of their client’s business. 

The most successful advisors in the BEI Network use an owner’s immediate concerns as a springboard for larger Exit Planning discussions. Proactive advisors say, “Your concern that key employees could leave with valuable information or relationships is a valid one. Once we know a bit more about your business, we will recommend one or more specific actions that you can take before you hire your next key employee. Any action we take today will also grow your business so that one day, you can transfer it successfully. We’re ready to get to work. Are you?”

As a business advisor, you understand the importance of Exit Planning for business owners. Attracting owners’ attention to something owners believe they can put off for another day, let alone engage them in a long-term planning relationship, is difficult—but successful Exit Planning Advisors know how to do it.

This post, which is the first in a series of related articles, will outline four attention-getting strategies to extract busy owners from their present concerns long enough to plan for the future.

Reach out before burnout.

Typically once owners experience burnout, they feel the need to exit immediately, making it nearly impossible for them to plan for a successful future.  Owners who think they can

postpone taking action until they are “ready” to exit, generally learn—the hard way—that when they are ready to exit, their businesses are not. That’s why proactive advisors reach out to owners before burnout happens, engaging them in a planning relationship that ensures they’re prepared for whatever the future holds.

If you sense an owner’s hesitations or aversions to planning, perhaps you can get them to start small by working on business continuity instructions or mapping out a Buy-Sell Agreement. Oftentimes, once an owner begins planning work, it is easier to keep moving with the plan once the ball is rolling. 

Engage in action-based Exit Planning.

Addressing each client’s top-of-mind problem(s) by asking questions, listening, and providing immediate solutions to pressing issues positions the advisor as a trusted resource to lead the planning team. For instance, if an owner is concerned about a lack of business growth, an Exit Planner might suggest a Stay Bonus Plan to motivate existing and new management to grow the business at the necessary pace. 

In short, successful Exit Planners focus on the actions owners are willing to take today to solve immediate problems, positioning the business to support their exit goals. We’ve collected and refined an extensive list of open-ended questions designed to elicit information and meaningful answers from business owners. 

Drip valuable information.

Exit Planners consistently provide owners with information that highlights both the current and future benefits of taking action today. Action taken earlier on in the process allows for more time to increase business value and improve chances of an overall higher sales price. This information educates owners on the importance of Exit Planning and helps them understand the value of engaging in a planning relationship.

At BEI, we know that curating content and delivering it to your prospective clients in a way that drives brand awareness and more conversations takes time and effort. That’s why we developed a system that takes care of the heavy lifting for you. With a quick assessment, you’ll be able to help owners understand what they’ve done, and haven’t done, to protect their families and their companies should they die or become disabled before they can execute the exits they desire. Start overcoming owners’ lack of knowledge by providing it! 

Link owners’ immediate concerns to Exit Planning.

Proactive Exit Planners leverage owners’ immediate concerns to initiate discussions on  Exit Planning. Showing owners how you can solve their current problems and position their business for a successful transfer in the future opens the door to doing a full, comprehensive plan. By proactively addressing these issues, business advisors can make the idea of Exit Planning less daunting and more appealing to owners.

As a business advisor, you know that the bulk of Exit Planning occurs long before an ownership transfer begins. By understanding these four attention-getting strategies, you can attract and engage successful owners in Exit Planning. By reaching out before burnout, engaging in action-based planning, dripping valuable information, and linking owners’ immediate concerns to Exit Planning, you can help owners understand the importance of planning for the future and position their business for a successful exit.

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