First Impressions (Part 1 of 2)

First Impressions (Part 1 of 2)

Although we’ve been interested in owning our own business for many years, recent circumstances plunged us into a more intensive search just recently. The variety of first impression experiences has been interesting and, I believe, informative for brokers.

We inquired about a few businesses on a national business listing site, and inquired about new franchises as well. Here are some of the responses to our inquiries.

#1: Zero Response

We have heard absolutely nothing from a few of our inquiries. Obviously this did not leave a good first impression. We had noticed that some of the listings on the national listing site were not on the representing broker’s own web site and wondered if that meant they had already been sold or withdrawn but not removed from the listing site. Whatever the situation, the broker lost the opportunity to find out our readiness, our available cash to invest in a business, and what we are looking for in a business.

#2: Vague or Incomprehensible Response

While the email responses generally referred back to the specific listing we inquired about, the phone responses didn’t always do the same. In one particular voicemail, the broker spoke so quickly, I had to listen to the recording four times to write down his number and still couldn’t tell you his name, company, or the listing he was referring to. He may have been a great broker, but I wrote down his number only in the case that all other options failed to work out. It felt as though he was hurriedly leaving the message in order to check off “call back client” rather than to make a possible connection and deal.

#3: Generic Response

I understand that national listing sites allow lots of “tire-kickers” (as Tom West likes to refer to them) to quickly click a button with no intention of ever actually buying. As a result, the responses sometimes feel a bit like the broker is just kicking back with no actual expectation of the inquiry leading to a sale. For example, most of our email responses basically said, “Thank you for your interest in So-and-So Company. I’d like to work with you. Return these forms.” For someone who works in marketing, those emails scream “missed opportunity.” Nothing about these emails gave me any reason to want to respond or want to work with that particular broker. I understand it would take time to add something enticing about that particular listing, but it would not take much extra time to add something to your email template about the process of buying, the benefits of working with you or your company, the fact that you have other listings that may be of interest, etc. In other words, add something, anything, to make your email stand out and suggest you have a desire to work with the client.

#4: Canned Conversation

For me, this was really the one that scratched off the broker’s name more quickly than any other. The conversation went something like this.

BROKER: “Tell me, what kind of business are you interested in?”

ME: “We actually don’t have any particular industry we’re set on. We are really open as far as what the business is. What’s important to us is that we are able to stay in our community, that the business is a good match for our skills and that it fits our investment budget and our cash flow needs.”

BROKER: “You know, I just thought of something. Sometimes people think they really know exactly what business they are interested in and it may not be the best fit for them. It’s really helpful if they can be open to businesses they may never even have considered. Does that make any sense to you?”

I’m not exaggerating. That was really the way the conversation went, and I can assure you it ended quickly after that. I wondered if he was texting somebody else while I was answering his question.

Tomorrow’s posting will include what did work in hooking this potential buyer.