In the prior post, we described a three-step process that BEI advisors use to secure planning engagements.
- Ask owners to identify the problems and/or issues that most concern them.
- Offer to help owners solve that pressing problem.
- Address and resolve the most urgent issue(s).
The advisors that ask the right questions and offer to solve the problems that matter most to owners stand out from their competition. Remember, a differentiator is effective only if it fulfills a client's need.
The Advisor’s Problem: Now What?
There’s an old adage that comes to mind when advisors consider their next step: The dog caught the car, now what?
Once you expose an owner’s pressing need, then what? Given the range of possible owner problems, there’s a good chance that you might not have the experience, professional training, or skills necessary to resolve the problem you uncovered.
For example, let’s say that you’re a financial advisor, attorney, or CPA and your owner client or prospect tells you that their most pressing issue is burnout. Further, they don’t know what to do about being burned out, but they are open—even eager—to having you solve it.
Well, there’s little in your professional training or experience that equips you to resolve the issue of owner burnout. You’ve uncovered the problem, but you don’t have the solution. This common series of events is precisely why most advisors shy away from even asking owners to tell them about their concerns.
BEI Members are just like you in that they can’t solve every possible problem a business owner might have, but they are willing to ask questions they alone cannot answer.
The Advisor Team
BEI Members confidently ask questions they may not be able to answer because they have the resources necessary to make recommendations to address and resolve owners’ needs.
- They have training and assessments they can use to gather information effectively.
- They have access to the BEI EPIC™ software that includes numerous recommendations that apply to the wide variety of challenges business owners face.
- They draw upon the expertise of the professionals on their Advisor Team.
Even if you aren’t inclined to become an Exit Planner, but do want to respond to your clients’ needs, we suggest creating your own list of probing questions and focusing on the last element mentioned above: forming an Advisor Team.
Team Member Characteristics
Now, let’s look at the qualities that make great Advisor Team members:
- Expertise in their profession.
- Experience with owners. Rather than setting a minimum number of years of experience, look for broad-based experience. Some advisors may have 25 years of experience with owners but only prepare tax returns or only provide insurance necessary to fund buy-sell agreements.
- Willingness to offer suggestions informally (i.e., not billable). Exit Planning Advisors often seek guidance from members of their Advisor Teams to ask whether a particular recommendation is sensible, and/or if others could be as or more effective. Having expert advisors available to discuss an owner’s situation before the owner engages an advisor or pursues a course of action is a critical aspect of Exit Planning.
- Time-sensitive. All Exit Plans are deadline-driven, so advisors who do not deliver their work product on time delay the entire planning process for owners and all other advisors. Don’t work with them!
Putting together an Advisor Team is a practice differentiator because so few advisors who want to help owners solve problems ever venture outside the confines of their professional expertise and training. Their failure to do so is an advantage for advisors who are willing to ask questions even though the answers might lie beyond their training.
- A differentiator is effective only if it fulfills a client's need.
- Few advisors are willing to ask questions that they (alone) can’t answer.
- No one advisor has the training or experience to resolve every challenge an owner may run into.
- Resolving an owner’s most pressing need usually requires input from a variety of expert advisors.
- Forming an Advisor Tea and describing its function to owners and other advisors is a practice differentiator.