Exit Planning Process: The Discovery Meeting

The first step in beginning an Exit Planning engagement with a business owner is to secure a meeting with them. In Exit Planning, there are typically two meetings with a potential client: the Discovery Meeting and the Engagement Meeting. You may be asking yourself what the difference is between these meetings and why they are both needed. Over this blog and the next, we intend to answer just that.  

Why are both needed?

Business owners may not be aware of the benefits of Exit Planning and may have misconceptions about what it entails.  Most owners aren’t sure that Exit Planning makes sense for them right now, have misperceptions about what it means for them and their business, and don’t know how long it will take to create and implement a plan. This lack of knowledge gives you an opportunity to educate owners and differentiate yourself from other advisors.

What is the Discovery Meeting? 

During the Discovery Meeting, your goal as the business advisor is to understand the owner’s goals and aspirations, and determine whether you can help them achieve those goals. Since this meeting ultimately shapes an owner’s first impression of you, it should be focused on what solutions you can provide to the owner to help with the pain points that keep them up at night. You must explain the benefits of Exit Planning to both owners and their companies and show prospective clients how they will benefit from working with you.   

To make the most of the Discovery Meeting, you should aim to achieve the following objectives: 

  1. Develop owner trust and confidence in your ability to help.

Think about the last large product purchase you made. You might have read reviews or done extensive research on the reliability of the product. As consumers, we do this because we want to trust that our money is being well spent on a product we can trust. 

The same is true for business owners when purchasing services. Owners want to have confidence that their money is being well spent and bringing value into the business.  

Business advisors gain trust and confidence with their prospects by asking personal questions about the business. Find out why the owner started the business, what challenges they’ve been able to overcome, the growth path of their business venture, and how they are feeling about their role in the business today. Demonstrating a genuine interest in an owner’s connection to their business will open them up to having a conversation with you about what their post-exit future looks like without the business. 

  1. Determine if you’re able to help and if the owner is willing to receive assistance.

To find out if an owner wants help and if you are the right advisor to help them, you must once again ask the right questions. This time, your questions are more oriented around Exit Planning, such as, “Who would run the company if something unexpected were to happen to you today?”  

Some owners want to slowly exit over many years, while others will want to exit by the end of the month. It’s your job as the advisor to clearly define what a business exit means and looks like to the owner so you can explain to them how you’ve helped other owners in their shoes. 

  1. Explain the Exit Planning Process and its benefits in a manner that owners understand. 

Using visual aids to explain a business process helps owners understand the big picture and the steps needed to achieve their exit strategy. This approach creates an emotional buy-in by providing prospects with a clear image of the desired outcome. In addition, it showcases your expertise in this field and establishes you as the go-to advisor to guide owners through the process.

Many owners will need to sit with this information before committing to jumping into doing an Exit Plan. In our next blog, we’ll cover what an Engagement Meeting looks like so you can turn your prospect into a client and begin planning. 


  • Start the Discovery Meeting by asking questions about the owner’s business and goals.
  • Develop trust and confidence by showing a genuine interest in the owner;s connection to their business.
  • Listen carefully to owners’ concerns and provide suggestions for action only when appropriate.
  • Keep your explanations simple and visually illustrate the Exit Planning Process.

Ready to discover a better way to plan with BEI? Schedule a meeting with us to talk more about how to best prepare for Exit Planning conversations. 

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