Exit Planning Process: Overcoming Fee Apprehension
You nailed the Discovery Meeting and breezed through the Engagement Meeting with your client.
Now it’s time to discuss fees.
As a financial or business advisor, you must be prepared for the inevitable question, "How much will this cost me?" Simply quoting a price will not suffice. You need to set the stage for the conversation by explaining the value and benefits of Exit Planning.
Before we dive in, be sure to check out the first two blogs in this series: The Discovery Meeting and The Engagement Meeting are essential to the Exit Planning Process!
Benefits of an Exit Plan
An Exit Plan is not just about selling the business for the highest price possible. It’s about creating a roadmap for the future of the business, its employees, and its owner. An Exit Plan helps business owners:
- Identify their goals, objectives, and concerns, and then develop a strategy to achieve those goals while minimizing risks.
- Create a sustainable business that can continue to operate even without them.
- Create a succession plan, which ensures that the business continues to thrive even after the owner retires or leaves.
- Maximize the value of their business. By identifying the business's strengths and weaknesses, an Exit Plan helps the owner create a strategy to maximize the business's value, making it more attractive to potential buyers or investors.
- Protect their assets and reduce risks. By creating a comprehensive estate plan, business owners can ensure that their assets are protected and passed down to their heirs without any issues.
- Identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them, ensuring the long-term success of the business.
Overcoming Advisor Apprehension
One of the major concerns that advisors have when it comes to Exit Planning is naming the price. Charging $2,500 for a financial plan, estate plan, or a tax return is one thing, but asking for $10,000 to $50,000 for an Exit Plan can be quite intimidating for both the advisor and the business owner.
It’s understandable why advisors might be apprehensive about quoting value-based fees when they’ve never done it before. Moreover, newly minted advisors might expect business owners to be shocked at the price, making them even more apprehensive.
However, it is essential to remember that creating an Exit Plan is a complex and time-consuming process that requires a lot of expertise, knowledge, and experience. It is not just about filling out forms or providing generic advice. Instead, it involves a deep understanding of the business, its owner's goals, and the current market conditions.
Therefore, charging a premium for such a service is justifiable. Properly explain to the business owner that the benefits of planning far outweigh the costs. Advisors must help their clients understand that the financial and emotional rewards that they will receive from an Exit Plan far exceed the fees for creating one.
There are a number of different pricing strategies that you can use when quoting the price of an Exit Plan. Determining a fee structure will depend on the owner's unique situation and needs. Let's take a closer look at some of these pricing strategies.
Exit Planning Advisors use different strategies to offer their services to business owners:
- The All-In Strategy quotes a single price for expertise, advice, and counsel for plans costing $3,000 or less.
- The 50/50 Strategy requires 50% of the fee upfront for plans costing between $7,500 to $12,500.
- The Monthly-Retainer Strategy involves small monthly payments for a specified period, usually one year.
- The Phased Exit Plan Strategy breaks down the planning process into manageable stages.
- The Hourly Pricing Strategy is not recommended for Exit Planning since pricing based on the overall value of the plan helps owners understand its true cost and benefits.
For a more in depth overview of various pricing strategies, check out our blog post: Exit Planning Fees: Strategies and Tips for Advisors!
The Bottom Line
Creating an Exit Plan is a vital process for any business owner looking to retire or transition out of their business. While the cost of an Exit Plan might seem hefty, the benefits that business owners will receive far outweigh the costs.
Advisors must understand that charging a premium for such a service is justifiable, given the complex and time-consuming nature of the process. Moreover, advisors must help their clients understand the benefits of an Exit Plan, which include creating a sustainable business, maximizing the business's value, protecting assets, and reducing risks.
Advisors new to Exit Planning are likely to be more concerned with the cost of the planning than their owner-clients. Therefore, it is essential to properly educate both the advisors and the business owners on the benefits of an Exit Plan, ensuring a smooth transition and a successful future for the business.
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:
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.
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.”
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!
Exit Planning Process Series: Step #1 – Setting Exit Objectives
Helping owners clarify and prioritize the objectives they want to achieve when they exit their businesses often takes more time than any other step in the planning process. This webinar, which is the first in a seven-part series, will cover the first step in the Exit Planning Process: Setting Exit Objectives. While all the steps require your knowledge and expertise, this step really requires your insight: you'll need to listen to what owners say and what they don't say.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Common Misperceptions in an Owner’s View of Exit Planning
Last week’s post reviewed 4 ways to engage owners in planning and get them to act towards Exit Planning. No matter which tactic you take with your prospective clients, it’s also important to understand why owners are hesitant to start the process. In today’s blog, we’ll look at 4 common misperceptions about planning so you can match your tactics with the reasons why owners are holding back.
1. I am too busy to plan.
Owners are justifiably focused on present issues in the business and managing the day-to-day operations. In their minds, their exit from the business is far in the future and owners believe they will make time to plan later. In these cases, relating tasks to an owner’s immediate concerns can really make an impact.
By doing a quick assessment, you can visually show them their most pressing issues today, whether that be growing business value or hiring key employees. By alleviating those concerns now, you are not only freeing up their time in the present, but you are also freeing up time in the future for more planning endeavors.
2. I don’t think I need to plan.
Many owners don’t believe they need to plan because they don’t fully understand their own assumptions on the value of their business and their current financial resources. Further still, many owners don’t realize how their involvement as owner impacts the value and how much it might decrease once they leave.
Oftentimes, by showing that gap, you can better illustrate the time it would take and the steps necessary to grow business value. If you can urge owners to start with improving operating systems and getting key employees in place so that the business can run without them, they will be in a much better place when it comes time to make the transition. As a bonus, they can start to envision what to do with their free time post-exit.
3. If it was important, one of my advisors would have reach out about it.
While Exit Planning may not be top of mind for owners, as an advisor wanting to grow in this area of planning work, it should be top of mind for you. Don’t assume they are talking to their other advisors about Exit Planning and don’t wait for them to bring it up.
Be at the forefront of their minds with the content you send and the questions you ask. By doing this, regardless of if they want to do one phase of an Exit Plan or a comprehensive plan, you will be the trusted advisor they seek.
4. When I’m ready to exit, I’ll take action.
Owners frequently underestimate the amount of planning needed for a successful business exit. Transferring a business to the person the owner chooses, at the time they want, and for the money the need takes spending resources today. According to the BEI 2022 Business Owner Survey, 35% of owners indicated that not believing they needed to plan for their exit yet was standing in their way of doing planning work.
There are several ways to approach this misperception. One would be to offer to review their business continuity instructions. Even if their business exit is too far into the future for the owner to commit to planning today, planning for the scenarios that would take them out of the business today is still valuable.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, it is not uncommon to be faced with skepticism when proposing Exit Planning to your business owner clients. However, with persistence and proven strategies, conversations with owners get easier when you can show them the long-term value of both planning for their future and working with you to do so.
Want to learn more? Schedule a meeting with us at the link below to discuss training options, monthly deals, license offerings and more, all designed to ensure you are on the path to becoming your client's most trusted advisor!
Strategies for Success: Breaking Down Business Continuity
You're invited to an all-new BEI webinar where we will dive into a crucial aspect of Exit Planning: business continuity. For many of your business owner clients, business continuity planning means simply signing a buy-sell agreement early in the company’s life and filing it away. However, most buy-sell agreements alone cannot support an owner’s primary exit goals; namely, selling the business when they want, for the amount they want, and to the successor they choose.
BEI Member Interview Webinar Series: Matt Difrancesco
Register today for an all-new BEI webinar series featuring interviews with current BEI Members who are in the thick of Exit Planning work. On March 15, 2023, at 4:00pm ET, our first featured BEI Member, Matt Difrancesco, Principal at High Lift Financial, will share his experience expanding his services and engaging clients in his niche market in the automotive services industry.
5 Ways to Automate Your Marketing Engine
As a business advisor, you understand the importance of reaching out to your target audience in a consistent and effective manner. But with so many responsibilities and tasks on your plate, it can be difficult to keep up with your marketing efforts.
That’s where automating your marketing engine comes in. By streamlining your marketing process and utilizing the right tools and strategies, you can save time, improve your results, and spend more time delivering better outcomes to your clients. At BEI Exit Planning, we believe that the driving forces behind effective outreach start with the following:
- Have something good to say
- Say it well
- Say it often
- Say it to the right people
Automating your marketing engine can save you time and effort, allowing you to focus on delivering the best results to your clients. Let’s take a closer look at 5 key strategies for automating your marketing engine.
Invest in a CRM:
A customer relationship management (CRM) system is a valuable tool that can help you automate your marketing processes and improve your results. From lead generation to customer engagement, a CRM assists in streamlining your activities and improving relationships with your business-owner clients.
By investing in customer relationship management, you decide how to consolidate your customer data within a central database, enabling you to easily access, update, and analyze information about your clients. When choosing a CRM, look for a platform that fits your needs and aligns with your goals, and be sure to invest the time and resources necessary to properly implement and utilize it.
Not sure which platform is right for you? Check out Forbes’ recent article on the best CRM Platforms for Small Businesses.
Utilize Marketing Automation Tools:
Marketing automation tools can assist you in streamlining various marketing activities, such as creating and distributing email and social media content. With these tools, you can quickly and efficiently create high-quality content that aligns with your brand’s messaging and tone.You can also schedule your content ahead of time, ensuring that your message is delivered at the right time to your target audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions.
Additionally, marketing automation tools allow you to track user behavior, enabling you to better understand their needs and preferences. This data can be used to personalize your marketing efforts, tailoring your messaging to your audience and boosting your conversion rates. Moreover, lead nurturing campaigns can be automated based on behavior data, allowing you to build stronger relationships with potential clients and ultimately increase sales.
Segment Your Target Market:
Segmenting your target market is a key strategy for ensuring that your marketing messages reach the right audience. Utilize a combination of demographic and psychographic information, such as age, income, and interests to better understand your target audience and deliver tailored messages that resonate. Automating your targeting efforts can yield superior outcomes with increased efficiency and efficacy.
Personalize Your Communication:
Personalizing your communication is another key strategy for automating your marketing engine. By automating your communication processes, you can ensure that you’re sending the right message, at the right time, to the right person.
With the BEI Marketing License, you’ll gain access to:
- Brandable Marketing Content & Client Reports
- Automated Content Distribution
- Networking and Workshop Resources
- Assessment & Discovery Tools
With these resources, you’ll be able to easily expand the reach of your brand and customize your message to bring in more clients.
Analyze Your Results:
The final step in automating your marketing engine is to analyze your results. By tracking your website traffic and other metrics like engagement rate, you can see which marketing strategies are working best, and identify areas for improvement. Use tools like Google Analytics to track your progress and optimize your efforts, and be sure to adjust your strategy as needed based on your findings.
In conclusion, automating your marketing engines can help you save time, improve your results, and deliver better outcomes for your business owner clients. By utilizing these five key strategies, you can maximize your efforts, streamline your processes, and achieve your marketing goals.
Start today and see the results for yourself! Ready to take the next step in your business advisory career? Click here to become the indispensable business advisor to your clients today and build your Exit Planning skill set!
Capitaliz on the Value Potential of your Client’s Business
Join us Tuesday, February 28 at 12pm ET, for a webinar presented by Scott Duke, VP of Sales for Capitaliz, who will share how to win new business and deliver great value to your existing clients. This presentation will outline the story behind the Capitaliz tool, and how Scott was able to leverage it in his own M&A practice to grow his business by 200% in 2022.
Proactive Client Engagement For Successful Business Exit: Advisor Tips
Are you tired of playing the waiting game with your clients?
As a business advisor, it’s time to take charge and proactively engage with them. By doing so, you’ll not only deepen your understanding of their goals and challenges, but also build stronger relationships and stay ahead of industry trends. What kind of advisor are you? Read our recent blog post on Proactive vs. Passive Advisors and take the first step in becoming an indispensable asset to your clientele.
Let’s turn the tables, check out these tips for effective, proactive engagement now!
Proactive client engagement is the process of regularly interacting with your clients in order to:
- Understand their business and personal goals.
- Identify and address potential issues.
- Nurture strong relationships.
- Stay informed about industry trends and changes.
By engaging proactively, you can provide valuable guidance and support that can help them achieve their desired exit goals.
Benefits of Proactive Client Engagement:
One of the primary benefits of proactive client engagement is that it allows you to identify and address potential issues early on. For example, if you as the advisor notice that a client’s business is struggling financially, you can help them develop a business plan to grow value and determine potential exit strategy options.
Another benefit of proactive client engagement is that it allows you to develop a deeper understanding of your client’s business and personal goals. This can be incredibly valuable when it comes to a business exit, as you will have a clear understanding of what your client hopes to accomplish. In the Exit Planning world, the ability to create a customized Exit Plan tailored to your client’s specific needs and objectives is essential to becoming an indispensable business advisor.
Engaging regularly and proactively also allows you to build stronger relationships with your clients. Regularly interact with your core clients to establish trust and demonstrate your commitment to their success. This can lead to long-term loyalty and repeat business, as well as positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Finally, proactive client engagement can help you stay ahead of industry trends and shifts. By staying informed about the latest developments in your client’s industry, you can help them navigate changes in the marketplace and adapt. Ultimately, assisting your client in staying competitive to achieve a successful business exit should be a top priority as an advisor.
So, how can you effectively engage with your clients proactively? Here are a few tips:
- Plan regular check-ins: Set aside time to check in with your clients on a regular basis, such as monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. During these check-ins, discuss their business and personal goals, as well as any challenges they may be facing.
- Be an active listener: Serve as a sounding board for your clients. Listen attentively to their concerns and provide advice when appropriate. Encourage open communication and be open to receiving feedback.
- Keep your clients informed: Share relevant information with your clients. This could include industry news, trends, and best practices. By staying informed about the latest developments in their industry, you can help them navigate shifts in the marketplace and adapt to new technologies. Download our latest Business Owner Survey to stay up to date!
- Provide valuable resources: Offer value to your clients, such as access to resources, training, and experts. Equip your client with the tools and information they need to succeed, so you can help them achieve their desired outcome.
- Follow up: After each check-in, be sure to follow up with your clients via email or call. Summarize what was discussed and highlight any action items that need to be taken. This will ensure that your clients are on track to achieve their goals, and any issues can be addressed in a timely manner.
Proactive client engagement is not just a one-time event, but should be an ongoing process to ensure the best outcome for your client. Building trust and understanding with your clients is key to long-term success.
To recap, proactive client engagement allows you as the advisor to address potential issues in the Exit Planning Process early on, develop a deeper understanding of your clients’ goals, build stronger relations, and stay ahead of industry trends. Incorporate proactive engagement into your practice process and become an invaluable business advisor to your clients!