Exit Planning Process: The Engagement Meeting

Exit Planning is an essential process for business owners who are looking to exit their business on their own terms. It involves a series of steps and discussions that help owners plan their exits and maximize the value of their businesses. 

In last week’s blog, we covered the ins and outs of the Discovery Meeting and what it means for you as the advisor and your business owner client. This week, we’ll review the Engagement Meeting.

The Engagement Meeting is a critical step in the Exit Planning Process. In this meeting, you will have the opportunity to convert your prospects into clients by discussing the goals of the business owner and how you can help them achieve those goals. 

What is the Engagement Meeting?

The Engagement Meeting provides business owners with a valuable opportunity to explore the steps necessary to enhance their business value and exit on their own terms. Throughout the meeting, it is essential to have a client-centric discussion, focusing on the owner’s goals and how you, as the advisor, can assist them in accomplishing these objectives. 

As the business advisor, your role is to help your client envision the process and outcome of the Exit Planning engagement for both themselves and their business. It is only after carefully reviewing their individual circumstances and recommended actions that you should address the matter of fees. 

Let’s look at the three meeting topics within the Engagement Meeting:

  1. Exit Plan design

The first topic of discussion in the Engagement Meeting is Exit Plan design. Business owners can get busy and may forget the details of a previous conversation, but utilizing the illustration created in the Discovery Meeting will help to keep the previous conversation top of mind with your prospect. 

The illustration will also help you to discuss potential plan designs and recommendations, the bird’s eye view of the path to exit, and provide suggestions for action along the path. Ultimately, you will show owners the many moving parts of Exit Planning, and that you have the experience to create and manage the clear action steps.

  1. Working with other advisors 

The second topic of discussion in the Engagement Meeting is communicating and collaborating with other advisors to spur owner engagement. Exit Planning is not intended for one advisor to tackle alone; it requires a team of advisors and experts to implement the recommendations that will guide your clients to a successful business exit. 

For many Exit Planning Advisors, they find that starting with the client’s existing advisors is a strong place to start. It is essential to eliminate any obstacles to the client’s progress. This can be done by assessing team member gaps. These gaps tend to change over time as the process proceeds. Taking it one step at a time and adjusting the structure of the team as the engagement progresses will streamline meetings, and thus save time and money.

As BEI Member Eddie Drescher shares, “My job as the Exit Planning Advisor is to try to eliminate any impediments to them moving forward.  Their advisor teams are not usually complete before beginning the Exit Planning Process. It takes time to determine advisor team member gaps, and they usually evolve as the process plays out. I like to take it one step at a time and add/subtract advisor team members as the engagement progresses.” 

  1. Fees and the Engagement Agreement 

The final piece of discussion in the Engagement Meeting is your fee structure. You have spent the bulk of this meeting and the previous setting the stage for where you will bring value to the owner, their business, and the process ahead. 

Additionally, utilize your existing relationships with advisors in your network who will be part of the Advisor Team to explain to the business owner that you can streamline meetings and reduce time and cost, as they are already familiar with your process. 

While discussing pricing with your clients may be a challenging conversation, it is crucial to overcoming concerns regarding the cost of an Exit Planning engagement.

The Engagement Meeting is an essential step in the Exit Planning Process, and provides an opportunity for you to convert your prospects into Exit Planning clients. Through consistent communication, working with other advisors, discussing the Exit Plan design, and determining your fee structure, you will be able to help the business owner visualize what the process and outcome will be for their business. 

Remember, Exit Planning is a team effort, and it takes a team of advisors and exports to implement the recommendations that will take your clients to their ideal exit. In next week’s blog, we’ll dive deeper into pricing considerations when working with clients and strategies for addressing concerns related to the cost of Exit Planning. See you next week! 

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