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How to Build Relationships Through Exit Planning

Submitted by John Brown on Fri, 12/13/2019 - 6:00am
A group of coworkers holding hands

One of the most important factors in big decision-making is the relationship between the decision maker and the people who facilitate the decision. When business owners start thinking about what their futures look like, both inside and outside the business, they want to make sure that they’re set financially once they leave the business (or if they think they will never leave, they want their families to be set after they die). But they also want to know that the people they’re working with to make that happen are working in their interest and no one else’s. That’s something that differentiates Exit Planning from other kinds of business transition planning.

Most owners spend their entire lives building successful businesses. They want to work with advisors who are just as committed to the business as they are. They want to work with someone they can trust, someone who can help them achieve their goals on their terms, and someone they can consult with, rather than simply do a transaction with. Advisors skilled in Exit Planning can do all of those things, but how?

The relationship-building process begins when advisors ask owners the right kinds of questions. It’s one thing for advisors to ask, “How much money do you need from the sale of your business?” It’s another—and better—thing when advisors probe into the why and how behind those goals. “Why is it important for you to sell at that price point?” is an example of a probing question, and it does several things.

First, it gives advisors an idea for the objective number an owner needs to consider themselves financially secure. This lets them dig into why owners chose that number and how they got to it. Second, it begins to tap into the things that motivate the owner. One owner might want to reach a certain price point to allow their family to travel the world. Another might want to have enough money to continue living the lifestyle they live while building a nest egg for children and grandchildren.

Each owner has different motivations. Advisors who can suss out owners’ motivations build meaningful relationships that not only help the owner achieve their goals but also extend the scope and breadth of the work advisors do with those owners. BEI provides advisors with the tools and strategies they need to find and address these motivations, positioning them to deliver what business owners want and need.

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Building relationships is the name of the Exit Planning game. Advisors trained in Exit Planning know how to find owners’ pain points and address them. In finding and addressing the problems that keep owners awake at night, advisors build trust and differentiate themselves. As a result, owners are more willing to adhere to the proven processes that Exit Planning Advisors offer to owners.

The process itself is also another way that advisors build relationships through Exit Planning. It’s important to note that Exit Planning is more about the planning portion than the exit portion: Whether or not owners exit their businesses, Exit Planning addresses issues that owners worry about, such as building business value and protecting their interests inside and outside the business. When advisors build trust by giving owners the option to exit on their terms by improving the business while they run it, owners are more likely to follow the process to get them to that point.

The process that gets them to that point is another example of relationship building. In Exit Planning, the Exit Planning Advisor coordinates the Advisor Team. The Advisor Team consists of other advisors whom the owner and/or Exit Planning Advisor has worked with and trusts based on their work. Rather than the owner trying to wrangle advisors to determine where they’re at in the planning process, the Exit Planning Advisor does that for them.

This gives the owner the freedom to continue running the business while the Advisor Team creates and implements the planning. It builds referral relationships between advisors who may have otherwise never worked together. And it gives the Advisor Team access to the next generation of owners, since the plans they create and implement eventually affect the next person or group to acquire ownership of the company. BEI helps advisors facilitate all of these things through its proprietary planning software, EPIC.

Exit Planning is an exercise in building relationships. Advisors who can build meaning relationships with business owners serve owners best and reap the benefits.


  • Advisors who can build consultative relationships with business owners earn more business for longer periods of time.
  • Exit Planning focuses on the owner’s goals related to improving their businesses—whether they intend to exit their businesses or not—which makes building meaningful relationships easier and more authentic.
  • BEI provides tools and systems that let advisors build meaningful relationships with business owners, all for the purpose of achieving the owner’s goals, both inside and outside the business.

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