13 Jun Building Better Relationships with Clients
In our ongoing discussion on the power for empathy and compassion and how you can use empathy and compassion to help clients, business broker legend Doug Robbins expertly guides business brokers through the process. Let’s jump in and take a look at some of Robbins’s key advice for learning to effectively use empathy to help buyers and sellers alike. These tips are from Robbins’ recent webinar series “Accepting Offers Rather than Selling Businesses.”
It is vital for business brokers and M&A advisors to understand two facts. First, empathy and compassion will positively impact your interactions with buyers and sellers. Secondly, empathy is a skill that can be learned.
Part of the process, as Robbins outlines, is to listen intently and always ask lots of questions. In Robbins’s view, business brokers must withhold judgment of their clients and strive to connect with them emotionally. They also must let their clients know that they are not alone. Simply stated, the process of buying or selling a business is an intensely emotional and potentially scary decision. As a result, you will want your clients to believe you are truly their ally.
You will become more effective in your work if you can understand these three things about both buyers and sellers:
- Their perspective
- Their fears
- Their motivations
Robbins wants business brokers and M&A advisors to always put themselves in “someone else’s shoes.” He notes that in order to achieve that goal you must acquire knowledge. In particular, you must acquire knowledge regarding the seller’s business. Researching a business and performing some market research will help you prepare yourself to understand what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Building trust can be a long process and there are many tools that one can employ to build that trust. Confidentiality agreements serve as a powerful foundational tool, but there are many other steps that you can take as well. One simple but potentially extremely effective suggestion is to share a meal with a client. Robbins states, “Mealtime is probably the time where you get more personal results and better communication with someone than any other time. You sit down, you’re relaxed, and you’re eating. That does something to the psyche of the person you’re dealing with. They will be more straightforward with you.”
The process of using empathy invariably leads business brokers and M&A advisors to a point where they are able to “get into a clients head, to understand what their fears are and what is keeping them awake at night.” Fear is a powerful motivator. Understanding a buyer or seller’s fears means that you can then take proactive steps to help address those fears.
At the end of the day, you want your clients to know that you understand them, their situation, and that you want them to be successful. When your clients believe that you care about their business, their goals for the future, and will assist with the obstacles and challenges that they face, it will earn their trust. They will also gain more confidence in you.
As Robbins astutely points out, “good intermediaries don’t sell. You need to get away from being an expert to move towards becoming a resource of expertise…learn to facilitate the expertise that is needed.”