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5 Steps for Prospecting Small Business Owners: Navigating the next decade of money-in-motion

By Ray Sclafani | June 21, 2024
5 Steps for Prospecting Small Business Owners: Navigating the next decade of money-in-motion


Finding new clients. It’s perhaps the single greatest challenge faced by younger next-generation advisors. Traditional cold-calling methods of building a client roster aren’t just antiquated and ineffective; in some cases, they’re even illegal. Specialized subject matter expertise is the surest path to success in today's marketplace. This is especially true in areas where significant change occurs – such as the steadily rising surge of small business sales.

Over the next decade, millions of small businesses are expected to change hands. According to the Exit Planning Institute, up to 4.5 million businesses owned by Baby Boomers will be sold or transferred as these owners retire – representing a massive transfer of assets and a golden opportunity for advisors.

The financial implications of these sales are substantial – generating proceeds that range from six to eight figures or more, depending on the business size and profitability. And these newly generated assets will need to be managed wisely to ensure the retiring owner’s long-term financial security.

The opportunities for advisors specializing in exit planning are extensive; from helping owners maximize sale value to minimizing tax liabilities and developing robust investment strategies from the sale proceeds. But these transactions involve complex financial considerations and careful guidance around retirement planning, tax implications, and reinvestment strategies – so your expertise will be critical.

Credentials Count

In this growing market, deep expertise in exit and succession planning matters. This requires a serious commitment to continuous learning and professional development. One or more of the following certifications and designations will go a long way toward establishing your bona fides:

Each of these provides a distinct perspective, training, and content. Conduct your own research and choose the program that best aligns with your personal approach.


Five Steps to Build Your Marketing Plan for Prospecting Small Business Owners
  1. Identify Your Target Market: study the demographics and psychographics of business owners who are likely to sell in the next decade. Focus on industries that are seeing significant consolidation or those with a high proportion of aging owners. Create detailed profiles of your ideal clients, including their needs, challenges, and motivations. Compile a list of prospective clients, including their planned exit dates and potential sale proceeds.

  2. Develop Educational Content: create content that addresses the specific needs of business owners preparing for a sale. This should include some mix of blog posts, webinars, whitepapers, and case studies on relevant topics such as valuation, tax strategies, and reinvestment options. Providing valuable, actionable insights will help establish you as a trusted expert. The Exit Planning Institute, BEI Exit Planning Solutions, and the International Exit Planning Association all offer access to a library of content you can leverage to position you as a certified subject matter expert.

  3. Leverage Digital Marketing: use digital channels to reach your target audience. Optimize your website for search engines, share content on social media platforms, and engage with potential clients through email marketing. You may also want to consider running targeted ads highlighting your exit planning expertise.

  4. Network Strategically: build relationships with professionals who work with business owners (i.e., business valuation specialists, accountants, attorneys, and business brokers). Attend industry conferences and networking events to connect with potential clients and referral sources. Establishing a strong network can lead to valuable referrals and partnerships. Consider a specialty within the small business market (e.g. home builders, car dealerships, dental practices, etc.). Click Here to download our extensive business sale Conferences and Valuation Brokers list.

  5. Offer Complimentary Workshops and Consultations: host workshops or webinars on business exit planning topics to attract business owners. Offer complimentary initial consultations to discuss their specific needs and how you can help. This approach showcases your expertise and builds trust and rapport with potential clients.

The Value of Expertise

As the saying goes, “Follow the money.” And the sale of small businesses is one area where the money should be flowing for years to come.

Your ability to provide specialized advice and solutions to business owners navigating the complexities of exit planning and, ultimately, the sale of their businesses can set you apart from the competition. But as these transactions unfold, you must coordinate with a skilled and trustworthy network of other business sale professionals.

By following the steps outlined above and committing to continuous learning, you can become an invaluable resource for business owners seeking to secure their financial futures. Remember, expertise is the key to success in modern client prospecting—follow the money, and the clients will follow you.

conference and val broker list cta

Coaching Questions to Contemplate:

  1. Think about the skill set and expertise of your team. What specific industries or business niches do your knowledge and capabilities best align with?
  2. What certifications and credentials would elevate your knowledge and subject matter expertise?
  3. What unique services and value-add can your firm deliver to owners contemplating (or in the process of) selling their business? How could you potentially deliver additional value through professional alliances?
  4. How will you most efficiently and effectively identify and connect with owners considering a sale? What channels and which messages will best resonate with this audience?


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