The Power of Listening

The Power of Listening

In our continuing webinar series with business intermediary expert, Doug Robbins, we’re exploring the steps that you need to take to communicate effectively with buyers and sellers. Business brokers and M&A advisors have a responsibility to educate buyers and sellers, and at the heart of all effective education is communication. To listen to the original webinar, please click here.

Sit Back, Listen, and Observe

As Robbins states, “You need to do the educating…the trick is to encourage them to ask for your support, your training and your knowledge. We call this the consultative dialogue to doing business. So consultative dialogue means you’ve got a lot of knowledge about a given business. The client needs to see this knowledge as a resource.” In his view, the best way to achieve this is to sit back, listen and observe.

Listening and observing are two of the most powerful tools that you have in understanding a buyer or seller. Robbins goes so far as to state that business brokers should spend 80% of their time listening and “paying attention with your eyes.” He also encourages business brokers to learn to absorb all body language clues stating that “body language can be very, very powerful.”

The Open-Ended Question

Another powerful tool in the business broker’s toolkit is that of the open-ended question. Asking buyers or sellers an open-ended question in order to get the conversation going then sitting back and listing can work wonders. It is through asking the right questions and listening that, as Robbins points out, “you will undercover the real needs and objectives of the person you’re dealing with…this consultant dialogue approach is extremely powerful and virtually irresistible.”

An additional example of effective communication through asking the right questions is to simply ask the question, “What do you personally see yourself doing in 10 years?” Of course, this answer will vary greatly depending on the age of the client. As Robbins notes, a 50-year-old business owner will have a very different answer than the 65-year-old business owner. Being able to help a business owner shape and define their vision is another power communication tool.

By listening carefully, asking the right questions, and then sitting back and listening carefully, business brokers and M&A advisors can glean a lot of information. In the process, you can learn what direction is best to take with a client.

Through getting this information, you will also learn a business owner’s strengths and weakness. Robbins states that most business owners may be strong in one, two or three key areas, but are usually lacking in many fundamental areas. When you learn a client’s weaknesses, it is possible to address those weaknesses. This in turn will not only make a business more “balanced, efficient and sustainable,” but also more attractive to prospective buyers.