Problem Solving as a Practice Differentiator

Fri, 07/16/2021 - 08:00


In the past several posts, we’ve discussed how standing out from competitors is the key to growing your practice and specific ways to do so. Differentiators include: 

  • Problem-solving skills, processes, and products that competitors do not offer, such as Exit Planning. 
  • An understanding of how owners can increase the value of their companies. 

A differentiator is effective only if it fulfills a client need. Exit Planning Advisors differentiate themselves from competitors by their ability to identify problems common to owners and resolve them. To do so, they use a three-step process. 

Step One: Ask Questions to Identify Client’s Primary Areas of Concern 

Business owners don’t buy your services and/or products because they like them, or you as their advisor for that matter. They buy tools to solve their problems. Unless you can identify and solve at least one of their problems, an owner has no reason to continue working with you. They can just continue working with their existing advisors, or no advisor at all. 

Exit Planning Advisors meet with owners and ask the right questions to tease out the problems or issues that distract them. A well-seasoned advisor can identify an owner’s frustrations or challenges they face that hinder their efforts to grow their companies. 

No advisor has the proper training to solve all the problems that owners face. Exit Planning Advisors, however, do know how to uncover and understand the source of an owner’s frustrations. BEI Members, for example, have access to an online, five-minute assessment they can use with their clients to identify their top priorities. By doing so, these advisors find the owner’s hot button issues and suggest a specific solution. 

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Step Two: Offer to Help Solve the Owner’s Problem 

Once you’ve identified an owner’s most pressing issue, you are positioned to make a radical difference in that owner’s life by addressing and removing a gnawing frustration. Of course, once owners articulate their chief problem, they have two options: Take action to solve it or kick the can down the road. 

When owners are asked to engage in the planning necessary to address all of their problems, the typical response is, “I’m working 60 hours a week now. Don’t talk to me about planning!” Anticipating that objection, Exit Planning Advisors instead tell owners how they can help them resolve just one concern or issue at a time. Offering to solve a single, identified problem gets an owner’s attention and creates momentum to tackle the next hot button issue. 

Step Three: Address & Resolve an Owner’s Most Urgent Issue(s). 

The most powerful reason owners have to hire you is your ability to pinpoint their #1 problem and resolve it satisfactorily. That’s easy to say, and for advisors not equipped with the necessary tools, hard to accomplish. That’s precisely why few advisors use the ability to identify and solve owners’ problems as a practice differentiator. 

BEI’s mission is to help advisors be the go-to advisor that clients and potential clients seek out. To become that advisor, you need tools and training beyond those provided by your profession. 

Our next blog post will provide examples of how advisors offer owners specific solutions without exceeding the limits of their professional training by and how to recruit other professionals to their advisor teams. 


  • A differentiator is only effective if it fulfills a client’s needs. 
  • BEI’s Exit Planning Assessment tool helps owners to name their problems and assign each a pain level. 
  • If you ask owners to engage in comprehensive planning, anticipate pushback. 
  • Owners are more motivated to engage in planning when they understand that their advisors can help them solve a specific problem. 
  • The ability to uncover and resolve common owner problems is one of the strongest practice differentiators. 

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