Exit Planning Secret #1 – Be Clear on Your Value Proposition

Key Takeaways:

  • While some of the success of the best exit planners is a “secret sauce,” much of what they’re doing flows from a clear value creation framework.
  • That framework helps them win the work and drive more structure into the work to make it more effective and repeatable.

Have you ever wondered how the best exit planners routinely become part of significant transitions again and again?

There are a lot of reasons some are more successful in this business than others. But, one reason comes down to shifting your mindset about the work itself – most exit planners feel that their work on a transition starts after they enter the company’s team of advisors. But, the work of an advisor commences far before that. It starts the moment you attempt to win new work, not from the point you start doing work.”

Exit Planning is about helping owners create value. So, to win the work, you need to show business owners how you will add value for them.

Value creation and exit strategy are intricately linked. If, as an advisor, you have created value for the shareholders before it is time to exit, your exit strategy is on the right track. However, if you miss creating value, a buyer might not find an acceptable transaction to close, or the shareholders might leave money on the table, making it a failed exit strategy.

So, What do Business Owners look for in an Exit Planning Advisor?

Business owners usually consider three categories before finalizing an advisor to the advisory team for exit planning.

  1. Personal characteristics – Any advisor worth having needs to be a team player. They may not agree with all the recommendations that the team makes, but they should be willing to work with the team in creating a plan that achieves all the goals and aspirations of the business owner. They need to be responsive. As an exit plan is a timeline that all parties agree to implement, every advisor in the team of experts must meet deadlines.
  2. Experience – Owners look for the most capable, experienced advisors in their particular profession. Unfortunately, it is a bit like a snowball rolling down a hill. Advisors who have been a part of successful exits are the most preferred. Advisors who have experience working on a wide variety of issues concerning business owners are logically more in demand.
  3. Understanding the exit planning process – Every advisor on the advisory team must understand and support the comprehensive exit planning process. A great exit planning advisor creates a plan that all members of the advisory team will follow. So, if an advisor is not profoundly familiar with the exit planning process, they’re already at a disadvantage.

Even after having all these qualities, some advisors still find it challenging to win significant new work. If you’re finding yourself in this boat, your struggles may have a lot to do with your approach.

The Initial Interaction Often Makes the Difference

In my recent webinar, How to Win More Work with the Exit Planning 2.0 Framework, I shared how business owners want to see the advisor’s value to the project before hiring him. An advisor must talk with the business owner about their hopes, dreams, goals, anxieties, and concerns, and tell them how:

  • Thoughtful planning will allow them to get maximum value in whatever they value the most. Be it financial independence, family time, or an opportunity for their children or employees. Also, how expert planning will maximize the value, they can receive in all these areas.
  • Exit planning minimizes risks associated with the business, such as unforeseen liabilities, tax consequences, the loss of core employees, management failures, death, and disability. It helps business owners establish control through desired leadership. It also ensures that the business moves forward in a manner acceptable to the owners. For example, the company can continue with its established culture, name, and role in the community.
  • Planning helps business owners take charge of the exit process by direct action rather than passively waiting for something to happen. Planning allows the business owner to experience peace of mind while controlling the destinies of their business, family, employees, and customers.

The Best Advisors Are Very Proactive  

Most advisors are reactive, meaning they wait for the business owner to bring an idea from somewhere else and work towards implementing it. So, they do not own the solution and are not involved in it from the onset. They are the ones getting late seats in the advisory team after much of the groundwork is over.

On the other hand, proactive advisors are the ones who stay in the know of opportunities that their potential clients can tap into. Instead of waiting for business owners to come up with liquidation or transformation ideas, they take the lead in introducing them to new opportunities.

For instance, as discussed in my recent webinar, Mike Ella, Director, Family Wealth Consulting at Key Bank, who has been instrumental in several transition projects, works closely with clients in exit planning. Through his habit of looking through the portfolio on the commercial banking side, he has developed a knack for identifying opportunities that help his prospective clients who are approaching a transition.

Mike proactively suggests solutions to company owners looking for an exit. He not only wins his next work but also earns an early entry into significant projects. He implements strategies well in advance of a potential transition.

And They Have a Proactive Value Proposition

A Value Proposition can provide a competitive advantage if done right. It is a promise of value in which you commit. You must articulate why a business owner should hire you and how you will benefit his company.

  • Discuss your previous clients and how your ideas and services have benefited them.
  • Describe the problems or issues that your previous clients faced. Illustrate how you helped them resolve those problems and improved their situation.
  • Explain your Point of View on the best ways of solving issues or problems concerning transformation or exit.
  • Give examples of how your ideas and solutions have achieved positive outcomes for your clients. Provide quantitative evidence of the value you added to your clients’ business.
  • Discuss your framework, i.e., the scalable and repeatable systems you follow. Explain how they help you ensure a timely and accurate outcome for your work. Emphasize your commitment to providing superior quality and top-notch services.
  • Proactively suggest solutions to the prospective client’s unique issues.

How Value Scout Helps

Value Scout is essentially built on top of a value creation framework you can use to help your clients establish a baseline value, to identify the value gap (between where they are now and where they need to be to retire), and to plan for and help drive client value creation initiatives to achieve a successful exit. It enables you to organize and carry out your work smoothly. It gives you visible evidence that your work is delivered via a structured framework ~ helping you win more exit planning clients.

Author Summary:
Dan Doran

Dan Doran

Is the Founder of Value Scout, Quantive and the 2019 Exit Planner of the Year. He is a recognized expert and speaks frequently about M&A, valuations, and developing more deliberate value creation strategies.

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