12 Jun The 5 habits of successful brokers
No matter which stage of your career you’re at, you’ll know that being a successful broker needs more than just adding yourself to various service directories and websites, and letting the money roll in.
These are five habits you will find ingrained in many of the most successful business brokers.
1. Treat it like a first date
When a prospective client first approaches you, don’t just go on the sales offensive.
Treat it like a first date – sort of. If that sounds a little weird, bear with me.
Just as you’re more likely to get a second date if you show interest in your date instead of boasting of your own attributes, a business broker will win the trust of a prospective client if they focus on learning about their business, not on delivering a sales pitch.
So ask them lots of questions. How long has their business been trading? What kind of revenues is it generating? How much repeat business does it enjoy? Does it have any intellectual property?
Understand their business and you can offer credible advice on their chances of selling and what they can do to make it an attractive asset for prospective buyers. Reassured that you will tailor your service to their business and needs, they will be much more likely to appoint you as their representative.
2. Follow up leads
Don’t let leads slip through your grasp for want of a follow-up system. If someone calls up enquiring after your services, ask them for their contact details and follow up with an email or call after a reasonable interval.
Do some research in the meantime. If you can return their call with some compelling (and truthful) information – eg: “I’ve identified several buyers in our database who match your requirements” – then you’ll put yourself in strong contention to secure the client.
Also set up automated email responses to email enquiries and make sure someone from your company responds within 24 hours.
3. Major on detail
However experienced you might be, you should always strive to learn more. Read the trade press, national press and business-for-sale classifieds sites to keep abreast of economic changes, trends in various industries and upcoming regulation that could affect the business-sales process or marketplace.
If the client detects that you have good sales patter with little knowledge to back it up, they’ll likely go elsewhere.
4. Be empathetic
Selling a business is a momentous time for entrepreneurs. They’ve probably spent years building their business and this is a chance to generate a return for those years of effort and risk-taking to fund a dream retirement or their next venture.
Don’t undermine your mastery of financials, regulations and the business-sales process by neglecting your ‘soft skills’: empathizing and connecting with people on a personal level.
This does not mean telling them what they want to hear; but there is still a sensitive way to tell someone that, for example, they have hugely overvalued their business (“perfectly understandable,” you might tell them – “lots of sellers do it”).
More sensitivity still will be required if the reason for selling is divorce, ill health or because the business is in the doldrums.
5. Ask clients for referrals
So you’re a shrewd business broker with peerless negotiating skills and lots of happy customers, right? Don’t waste the marketing benefits of your success; ask clients for testimonials and put them prominently on your website.
The words of a satisfied customer – someone who has gone through the process and come out the other side faster and wealthier than they expected – will always count for much more than any sales spiel coming from you – however eloquently you make your case.
By Bruce Hakutizwi, USA and International Accounts Manager for BusinessesForSale.com, the world’s largest online marketplace for buying and selling small and medium size businesses. Bruce has over 7 years’ experience working within the US business transfer marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.