Often, practice leaders focus on the terms of a deal, while overlooking the human aspects of the transaction. This is to the detriment of the deal and can even prevent a buyer from getting selected when there are multiple offers on the table. In order to not only get a seller to select you but to also help you successfully transition their clients to your care, you have to build rapport with the seller.
Building rapport starts by getting to know the seller on both a personal and professional level. Asking about their values, learning about their investment philosophy, and getting to know their professional journey helps you draw connections between their practice and yours. Understanding their concerns, interests, and goals on a personal level helps develop trust and commitment to you as a buyer. The more both parties interact and find synergies to draw upon, the more amiable they are to negotiate a fair deal and to work together to get the deal across the finish line.
To achieve this requires an investment of time and effort through phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings. For your initial call or meeting, come prepared with key questions that help you uncover their values, goals, and approach to client management. Always start by asking questions and getting to know them first, before pitching yourself as a prospective buyer. Not only does this show them that you are truly interested in finding the right fit, it also provides you with valuable information that you can use to make your case as the right buyer for their practice. Before approaching a prospective seller, it’s also important to outline your own values, goals, investment and client management philosophy, as well as your plan for transitioning clients.
All of this can start long before you are ready to buy or have identified a prospective seller. Networking with the maturing advisors in your area allows you to build up connections with future sellers and establish that rapport well before their practice goes on the market. Many times, you can circumvent the competition and avoid bidding in an open market if you have an established relationship with a retiring advisor. If they already know, like, and trust you, they will often reach out to you first, before listing their practice for sale.
Again, although it is a financial transaction, it is ultimately about people. An advisor’s practice represents years of hard work and dedication. The advisor wants to leave their investment in good hands, while also meeting their own needs and goals for the next phase of their life. The more time you spend understanding them and their practice, as well as drawing the connections between their personal and professional goals and your own, the more successful your acquisition will be.