Expert Tips on Winning the Work – For Exit Planning Advisors

winning the work

How to acquire the next client? It is one of the most pressing questions for exit planning advisors. It is even more a topic of ongoing discussion in COVID times.
Consulting is a one-to-one, person-to-person, as well as a notoriously difficult-to-scale business model. For many advisors, it is challenging to go out and find that next marquee client to service.
In our first webinar of 2021, I shared some of those tips from the best in the business – the most successful exit planning experts I know on how they systematically attract and win new business.

Collectively, I grouped their advice into three buckets:

Be crystal clear on the clients you hope to attract and equally clear how you can help them.
Proactively articulate your unique value proposition
Have the value conversation early and often

#1 – Be crystal clear on the clients you hope to attract

Know the types of clients where you can deliver the most value. Get a detailed picture of the people and companies you work with now and would like to work with in the future. Dig inside their world to truly understand their issues and what stands in the way of a future exit.
Define firmographics and create meaningful market segments with variables such as industry type, company size, locations of companies you best serve, the status of the companies, and their performance over time.
Obtain demographic information to outline your ideal clients with details such as title, age, experience, education of the individuals you serve. Further, collect psychographics on what they’re thinking and feeling about transition right now; what are their fears; what are their concerns?
Then figure out where they congregate. It could be online groups, in-person experiences, or other groups such as Vistage, YEO, etc. Ultimately, you need to come to your potential clients with a unique point of view on how they should get from here to there.
For more on this, check out our last webinar now available online for streaming –Attracting Your Ideal Client (And Avoiding Time Wasters).

#2 – Proactively articulate your unique value proposition

Most advisors pride themselves on being responsive to their clients and reactive to their needs. And, to a point, this is good. But, if you’re going to have a seat at the table on a client’s future succession or exit, you can’t sit on the sidelines and wait for them to talk to you about it. By the time most clients start looking for advice, they’re already well behind the 8-ball. Planning for a successful transition and the value creation work necessary to make it happen needs to start long before most clients even let the topic cross their minds. Hence, you have to be proactive. You have to start the conversation early.
Expert consultants are proactive. They bring a framework to the conversation that governs their work, which lets them articulate their value proposition and how they will help a client well in advance of a future exit. It improves their chances of winning that assignment and delivering on that for the next one to three years, well before a liquidity event.
The Director of Family Wealth Consulting at Key Bank, Mike Ella, works deep in projects and helps owners through that transition long before a liquidity event. To make this happen, he looks through the portfolio on the commercial banking side for opportunities to help owners approach a change. He’s using the information the bank has to start the conversation early. Essentially, he’s building a backlog of potential clients who could use his help and proactively work with his commercial banking partners to start the conversation early.

#3 – Have the value conversation early and often

Exit planning is about helping owners create future business value. To hire you, owners need to see a clear value proposition that describes how you’re going to help them make that happen. The first two steps of exit planning are almost always assessing the estate’s value and assessing the needs of the estate or the individuals to transition.
The next step is determining business value and identifying the value gap. How much more does the business need to be worth to transition successfully?
Your conversation with a prospective client cannot start with de-risking or document checklists. It has to start with a candid discussion on value. When advisors ask their clients when they would like to retire, most owners say five years. It doesn’t matter if they’re 35 or 75 years of age. They usually give the same answer.
Your job is to get underneath that answer. Please explain how you can help the owners maximize value and make their company exit ready. Get granular on when the transition will occur, help the owner think about life after. Make them determine how much they will need to fulfill their post-exit goals. Tell them how you can help them minimize risks while creating value. That conversation always starts with value.

Taking the next step

For many exit planning advisors, attracting new clients to the practice is the first and most challenging task they face. Luckily Value Scout has your back. One of the cornerstones of Guidon, the Value Scout community, will be a clear focus on helping you attract and win new clients. Here’s a list of all the webinars we’re hosting on this topic during Q1 2021:
Attracting Your Ideal Client (And Avoiding Time Wasters) – Brooke Norman offers advice on positioning your firm and your practice. Recorded 1/28/2021   | Stream Now
Standing Out in a Crowded Market – Join internationally acclaimed professional services marketing expert Ian Brodie as he unlocks his secrets for differentiating your practice on 03/04/2021.
Filling Your Pipeline with Leads – Ahmad Munawar, the founder of Boutique Growth, brings his expertise in growing solo and independent advisory practices and shows us his tips for building an “overflowing” pipeline in just 90 days 03/18/2021.
I look forward to seeing you online.

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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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