The Sellers Journey
The Sellers Journey
One third of businesses that go to market to sell actually conclude successfully!
This ‘failure’ is often caused by excuses like ‘I need more money’ or ‘I need more time’, these are not the real reasons and can mask the emotional challenges that business owners are facing.
We look at some of these common emotional barriers and what we can do to help avoid them.
If you are a professional adviser to family business owners this is a must listen episode as Denise shares her experience of helping sellers to overcome these barriers.
We look at the emotional aspects of selling or passing your business on to the next generation and ask the question:
What does work provide for you?
As a business owner no-one prepares you for letting go of your business, the role you play in it and the emotional wellbeing that it provides.
You can find out more about the work that Denise does by heading to
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Russ Haworth: Well, hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the family business podcast. My guest this week is Denise Logan, and I am really, really excited to introduce you to Denise. She is an author and speaker, and we met probably 18 months ago now, Denise at a conference in Denver. And we’ve kept in touch since, and I enjoy it.
All of our conversations. So I’m really excited to have another one with you today. This one is on the record compared to the ones we’ve had before. But before we get into what we’re going to be talking about today, perhaps give our audience an overview of who you are, how you came to be doing what you’re doing now.
And a little bit more about you.
Denise Logan: I’m Denise Logan, and it’s so nice to be with you today, Russ, I’m the author of the seller’s journey. And it’s a book that I wrote about the emotional obstacles that business owners face as they are letting go of their business and transitioning into a new role. I’ll tell you a little bit about how I came to this work in my early life, I was a mental health professional, and then I was a lawyer.
And I always say if I was a good mental health professional, I would have prevented myself from becoming a lawyer. And what I saw was. Lots of business deals were falling apart. The sale of a business was falling apart for all of the reasons that were not being said.
So an owner might tag on, I need more money or I need more time. And what was often happening was emotionally, there was so much friction under the surface about how they would let go. And I saw that myself in my own business. So I built a large law firm in Washington, DC, and eventually realized it was time for me to make my own exit.
And honestly, I had known for several years and found it hard to make the process of letting go. When the time finally came for me to let go, I did a super ugly choppy exit of my own business. And I sold my house, bought a motor home and ran off for what I thought would be six months and turned into several years, where I traveled all over North and central America, basically trying to reclaim myself because no one was there to help me through that emotional process of how I let go. There’s a whole other conversation we can have about how much fun it is to travel all over several countries and super fun. And that’s, we may end up doing a separate conversation about that, but.
When I returned from my journey, I reconnected with an old friend who owned a business and he said, so you’re driving around like a bum doing nothing. How is that? What it looks like on the outside? Because on the inside it really feels much better. And he had a business that he was preparing for sale.
And so he knew he was a couple of years out and he said, why don’t you join us and help us grow? And if you like it stay, if you don’t like it, getting your house on wheels and drive away. And I spent 10 years with that business. And over the 10 years we prepared it and brought it to sale three times. And each of those times the owner was unable to let go.
So after 10 years of this process, I left and did a lengthy research study to try to figure out what was happening with owners. You could be me and wait too long and have a really ugly accent, or you could be him and try to go too early and not be prepared to let go. And what I saw from working with hundreds of business owners and the research that I did was that there is much more emotion going on under the surface.
And most of the advisors are focused on the trends faction, but almost no one is focused on the transition that the owner is facing. And so that was the origin of me, beginning to work with owners and advisors to help advisors understand what their business owner, clients were struggling with, why those were so difficult.
And it led to me writing the book.
Russ Haworth: Fantastic journey to, to where you are now, and I’m, I’m fascinated, but we will have another conversation about the lessons from, from traveling around central and South America. Sounds, sounds fantastic. But you mentioned the issue of letting go and, and as you were saying, it, a sort of vision appeared in my head of.
Someone struggling to hold onto something and, you know, it gets closer and closer and they’re there by the fingertips. And you see in Hollywood movies where there’s that moment where they do let go, and it’s a dramatic scene and it’s normally a very negative connotation of, you know, someone’s falling off a skyscraper or edge of a cliff, cliff hangers.
The one I think that that immediately Springs to mind. And so there is that kind of. Negative feeling around letting go as if it’s a loss. Anyways, is that what you were seeing in, in the studies is that that sense of letting go was very much centered around loss or how was it sort of manifesting itself in those that you’ve been working with?
Denise Logan: so many different angles of that question. That’s a really good question, Russ. So it definitely is a loss. And for most people they’ll say, but you’re making a big amount of money. Like just focus on the money. You’ll figure out what you’ll do. So first piece of loss is about identity. Who am I, if I’m not the owner of this business?
If you think about it everywhere we go. One of the very first questions we’re asked is what do you do? Whether or not, it is relevant. I was getting my hair cut recently and the woman who was in the next chair, six feet over, because it’s the middle of coronavirus said to me, so what do you do? And I thought, good grief.
What does that have any relevance? The two of us are getting our hair cut in a salon. So if we put that into the context of an owner who is about to exit their business or transition to the next generation, How will they answer that question when asked, and we know from any of our friends or peers or family members who have ever been unemployed, if you don’t have what feels like a satisfactory answer to the question, what do you do?
It can feel very shaming. One of the things we see owners struggle with is at various points in the process of selling or transitioning to the next generation. These fears are bubbling up under the surface, and sometimes they’ll express those fears to another person and get a response that makes them think, Oh, I shouldn’t be talking about that.
A classic example. And we think about this as older owners, but it happens for younger owners as well. I was working with an owner several years ago, who was in his mid thirties. He had a software company and he was set to net 16 million us dollars on the other side of the sale. That’s a pretty good chunk of change when you’re in your mid thirties.
And at one point he woke up and realized, who am I going to hang out with? All my buddies have jobs. So he was out shooting pool with his best friend. And he said that to him too, which his best friend responded Boohoo. I wish I had your sad little $16 million problem. Yeah, the reality is the problem didn’t go away.
It just went underground because he was worrying about something that he also felt ashamed of talking about them because what everyone points back to is you’re about to get a huge windfall. Yeah, that doesn’t eliminate those issues. So if we circle back, even to the letting go, can I offer another thought about the letting go?
Here’s here’s a way that we can think about it. Owners often say they feel like they are falling into a black hole. We can relate this to our children. So we prepare our children to launch off to college or off into the work world. We don’t wait until the day they’re 18 and say, so what will you do with yourself?
We have a whole process of pairing them to launch and let go. And we watch all of the inflection points of transition in our children’s lives, where it is difficult for them to let go. When they’re moving from one grade to another and they’re having to let go of their favorite teacher, watch them struggle when it’s time for them to leave their sports team.
That is a transition. Who am I in this next chunk of my life? And there is. We’re moving to something that we’re looking forward to and we’re having to let go transition, always stirs up fear and sadness and grief and loss. We can even look at it with when our children launch from home, we all know about empty nest.
Syndrome, right. The first time you’re excited. They’re off on their own. They’re off to university. And how exciting is that? And then the first time you walk into their room. Oh, they’re gone. Or you find yourself continuing to put plates on the table and you’re like, Oh, there’s one less plate to put on the table.
And it is an adjustment period that happens. Each of those are small little losses. They are gains, right. We’re moving to a new stage and we hope to launch our children. But as business owners, no one prepares us to launch or let go. The assumption is that you will sell your business or transition it to the next generation and you will know how to do this.
And for most of us, when we come to that place and we realize, Oh, I don’t know how, and I’m afraid. It’s terrifying.
Russ Haworth: Yeah. And I guess that then is where the, if there is that level of shame or not feeling comfortable talking about the real issue is where the excuses for, for one of a better phrase of, I need more money or I need more time then start to creep in.
And as somebody who would have been involved in those deals during your, your. Days as a lawyer, that that’s frustrating from a professional advisors perspective because you are focused on that transaction and. I guess the person that’s selling or transition that business has also been hugely focused on that business for so many years, because it is, it could be something that they’ve built up themselves or they’ve taken on from previous generations.
And they’ve been head down working in that for, for years, and then they’ve had this, okay, we need to deal with this, this thing called succession. And this is how we’re going to be at a business sale or a transition to the next generation. As you say, And the focus then becomes on all the stuff that needs to happen for that to come to fruition.
And then as you say, they can take years that it can be years of work with your professional advisors to get the structures and the business in a shape to pass it on. And then all of a sudden, as you get closer to the time that you sign up bit of paper, you start to think this is really happening. The fears that I’ve got, that the nervousness I’ve got about moving on is really gonna really gonna happen.
And is it common D how common rather was it for those excuses to come out? That weren’t really the real, real reason that I need more time. I need more money.
Denise Logan: It is huge Russ. It is exactly what happens. So I wrote a column recently called a scary things that go bump in the night. And it’s the things that make owners wake up at three o’clock in the morning and sit up in their bed and think, Oh my gosh, am I doing the right thing?
Maybe I should wait. Maybe I’m not ready. Those are things that happen. I mean, I can relate this to my own experience of letting go of my business. So I went through the process. The very last moving truck was pulling away from the building and I wanted to get a closer view of it. So I, you know, I, that the entire floor of the office building was now empty.
And I lean toward the window to catch a glimpse of the moving truck as it pulls away. And I hit my head on the window and I suddenly realized that I had tears rolling down my face, and I thought I didn’t hit my head that hard. And that’s when I realized these were not tears because I hit my head on the window.
These were tears because I was watching something that I had spent. So many years of my life building and it was going off, it was no longer mine. Yeah. And for weeks afterwards, even though I was delighted, it was what I wanted. Right. And we often hear advisors or family members say to the owner, but it’s what you wanted.
Yes, it is. And there’s a sense of cognitive dissonance that goes on for us. So for weeks afterward, I would be in the house at home, delighted that I did not have to get up and go to work that day. And I might be on the patio with a cup of tea and suddenly be thinking about, Oh, I should tell so-and-so, Oh, that’s right.
This isn’t my business anymore. Or I would begin to wonder about a case that I had been involved in. Oh, Oh, that’s not mine. So I alternate it again and again, between isn’t this great that I can be sitting on the patio or going for a run in the middle of the day too. What have I done? Yeah.
Russ Haworth: And I guess, I mean, within a family business as well, if we, if we’re talking about senior generations who perhaps have completed in inverted commerce, that succession process, the number of incidences we have of.
Senior generation going back into the business and not being able to kind of create the, the boundaries between the previous roles and their new retired role for want of a better phrase. It can create havoc in the business itself because there’s a questioning of authority around the person that’s taken that.
Personnel’s roll on and yet they’re coming in and go more. Hang on. I’m still really the, the boss. I know we’ve done this, but I’m still really in charge here and you need to do this. And in those circumstances, what should we be looking to do? How do we recognize that these are issues and how do we raise it?
Because there are people of. I’ll be ageist and sexist here. And I mean it in the nicest possible way, but men tend to be worse at talking about this stuff. And men of us particular generation tend to be worse at talking about this stuff. Big sweeping generalization. I know there’s exceptions to it, but, but if they’re particularly bad at talking about it and don’t want to talk about it and there’s this shame around it as well, how do we start making it okay.
To have those conversations and what can we be doing as advisors to help. Have those conversations.
Denise Logan: Yeah. So I will tell you that I think most owners, male, female, young, old, want to have the conversation and don’t know how to have a conversation and are hoping that someone will open the door and initiated with them.
And if done well, it will happen. So here’s a very simple question that I suggest every advisor asks their owner owners, their clients. What does work provide for you? It’s an open-ended question. It is really designed to elicit. We should be able to get somewhere between 10 and 15 distinct answers to that question.
Typically, the first answer that we’ll hear is money. Yeah. It’s the easiest one for us to pack on. The later ones that come out in answer to that question are the ones that are more crucial and what I’m looking for. And what I suggest an advisor is looking for is these needs that are getting met for the owner by owning this business, do not go away just because they make a big sack of cash and exit their business.
Those needs must be met somewhere else. So we could look at, should we play a little game? What are the kinds of things that owners might say, do you think?
Russ Haworth: So I would say something to get up for in the mornings. So somewhere to go and be away from. Home, for example,
Denise Logan: We all need a place to get away from our spouse, our kids, and just the sense of being home.
That’s an especially important one right now while people are confined at home so much because of coronavirus. It is one of the reasons we’re watching owners who should be selling, have huge resistance. Because subconsciously they’re thinking, is this what it’s going to be like? And the answer is, no, it won’t be like this forever, but leaving home a place to go, what else might they get from work?
Russ Haworth: Feelings of control or power.
Denise Logan: Absolutely. And I will tell you control and power are ones that are usually set very late. In the inquiry. So whether you’re asking yourself, or you’re an advisor, so asking a client don’t stop with the surface ones. So friendship is another one because for most of our owners, their employees and customers and vendors are their friends.
And so who will they spend time with and what will happen? Yeah. Their sense of place in the community. For many of them they’ve been highly philanthropic or maybe they’ve sponsored a sports team or right. So there’s this place in community. What else might they
Russ Haworth: be missing? I was going to say it might be covered by some of what we’ve already covered anyway, but a sense of purpose that literally this is, this is my identity.
This is who I am and what I want to be. Doing, I understand. I need to pass it on, but it’s, it’s what I’ve always known.
Denise Logan: Yeah. And I want to tell you a story about that answer, but just to tie this piece up, we should be able to look for all of those answers. And as I said, keep probing 10 to 15. If someone is listening to the podcast, get your pad out and write down and keep writing, keep writing, keep writing, because there are so many distinct answers of what we get beyond just the money.
From our business. So
the sense of purpose, there was a family business that I consulted with was three generations. Grandfather father son, the grandfather was out of the business. The father was in his mid sixties, primarily running the business and the son who was in his mid thirties, also in the business, the son went to the father and said, You will turn this business over to me by the end of the year, or I’m going to take all appliance and start my own company and drive you out of it business.
Russ Haworth: Wow.
Denise Logan: I wish I wish our listeners could see your face. Right. Because that was pretty much my face. When I heard it, I was like, Oh man. It’s an artful way to approach succession. And so when I got into the conversation with this family, what I learned was that the son had been trying to have this conversation for five years.
And the father had basically been giving him a hand, not now, not now. And eventually he said, I’m going to have this conversation now or else. And when I spoke to the father about it, he said, I will never leave this business. If I leave this business, it’s Jack Daniels and cartoons at 10:00 AM and my heart just broke for him.
And I knew that the work he needed to do was not about how to finance the transaction. It was not about how to make the business better. It was about what else will sustain this man. Because we can not ever be in a place where we pry an owner out of their business strictly for the money and then find that they are left, broken on the other side.
Yeah, that is a failure on the part of advisors when we do that.
Russ Haworth: Agreed, and in terms of looking at ways of addressing that with, with people, particularly if they’ve made that list and you understand what it is that they get out of work, is it a case of looking at ways in which those qualities, those attributes of, of what they get from work or reputated do they need to reconcile that some may never be how they are whilst they’re in work?
What are the sort of things that you advise people to look at in order to help them deal with those things? Emotional barriers,
Denise Logan: they will continue to get those needs met. The issue is how they get those needs met. So for example, if control or power is one of the things that an owner gets from his business, his business or her business, the likelihood is they will begin to exercise that sense of power and control at home.
We all know how that goes. Well,
Russ Haworth: yeah, there was a previous outlet for it. And now, now it’s just starting to happen after X number of years. Yeah.
Denise Logan: Interestingly, the spouse of the owner or the other family members of the owner are also experiencing their own emotions around this transition. So can I tell you the story of another owner
Russ Haworth: please?
Denise Logan: So this was an $85 million sale of a business and eight weeks before close the seller suddenly announced that he would not take a penny less than nine times. EBITDA. When he had already signed a letter of intent at 6.2. So the investment banker called me and said, I think my seller went crazy.
I’m like, yeah. Sounds like it. Let’s see if we can figure out what scared your fella and what hidey hole he went into, because of course something has happened. So his original plan was to sell the business, buy a sailboat and sail around the globe. And you can get a pretty good boat for $85 million. Yeah.
Two weeks before he asked for this unicorn, his wife said to him “I’m not doing that. I do not want to be stuck on a boat with you far away from my grandkids. No way”. Now, Russ, can we agree? He is not coming back to the deal team to say the deal is off because my wife won’t let me do what I want to
Russ Haworth: do. Yeah,
Denise Logan: no way.
Instead, he asked for something that they could not produce. So that the deal would fall apart and he would not have to face this experience. And what we’re in that is something called relational grief. So the husband or wife, like in almost all of our relationships, had a vision for what the future would look like, but their visions didn’t necessarily line up.
And they had sacrificed a lot along the way in the hopes that at some point they would have their exit, their wealth event. And then they would go on when they got sight of the fact that our dreams are not aligned one or both of them are likely to try to prevent the sale of the business.
Russ Haworth: Yeah. Yeah. And again, it doesn’t form a.
A hindsight perspective, had those conversations happened earlier, had they been explored in a safe way where it was? So I’m thinking of doing this when, when this happens rather than like you did in the example, being a few weeks out from completion and all of a sudden a curveball’s thrown in there, it would have perhaps made.
Life easier for, for, for everyone involved in that transaction. But, but in terms of the kind of like accessibility of those conversations happening and the, the assumption that’s often wound up in people’s views, particularly if they are focusing on on an end point, it can, all of a sudden it can, it can feel a really long way away in terms of time and local, so much time to deal with all of this stuff.
And then the transactional side or the succession side takes over. And then you are left with this very short window of time to go, okay, well, this is what I’m thinking of doing. And it might be a flippant comment. What are you going to do in a couple of weeks when this is all finished? Oh, well, I’m buying a boat and we’re off, off around the world.
And it’s like, well, you know, you’ve had years to potentially have that conversation, but it’s, I find as well, there’s a lot of assumption of well, people know how I feel because. It’s obvious. I feel it it’s it’s there. I does that happen with it? I don’t need to talk about it because surely people should know that I feel this way or is it, is that the wrong end of the stick?
Denise Logan: The conversations often happen at such a shallow level. So a financial advisor or wealth manager will even sometimes an investment banker or a lawyer will say, so what’s your plan for after you sell this business and someone will say, Travel and golf. That is not a plan. And what happens is for many advisors, they are so uncomfortable having the conversation about, well, what does that look like?
That they are grateful to not have the conversation. That is a huge disservice to our clients. And it is also a recipe for disaster in most transactions. The better approach, a this is not one conversation. It’s not do have a plan, so I can hurry up and run your deal. It is just as we would with someone we care about and over and over, I’m like we have permission to care about our clients in this process.
Just like they were our favorite uncle or our favorite aunt. How would you care for them in this? So you would help them say, so where will you go in your first trip and how will you get there? And how long will you stay and who will be there? And what will you do on the next trip? And where would you like to golf?
So that what we’re doing is creating a compelling vision that helps the owner to keep coming forward. When these obstacles come up, it makes perfect sense that they’re going to become emotionally dysregulated or scare or, or uncertain, and being able to anchor back to a touchstone, which is, Oh, that’s right.
This is where I’m gone.
Russ Haworth: And I think so I, I smiled when he gave the example of, of golf and travel because I used to be a financial planner and the most common response to what, what are you going to be doing with your retirement was gardening and golf or traveling and goal. And you kind of look at it and go, there’s only so many.
Days a year, you can be in your car because there’s going to be a macula after a while. And either you’re going to get so good at golf because you play it so much that your term pro or you won’t get better at golf and you’ll become so disheartened with it that you won’t play as frequently as you perhaps envisaged.
And I think there’s a. A danger. And you touched upon it earlier with the guy who played Paul with his friends is to ridicule plans that people have when the reality is we’re kind of painted this picture of retirement. I’m using a Mark for speech marks. Of this quaint little time where you sit around with your feet up and you, you know, Potter about here and you, you go and do your gardening and your golf.
When the reality of it is that if you have that strong sense of identity and strong sense of purpose, losing that. It’s like going into a grief process at a time where there’s nothing else to replace what you had. And I’ve seen it become a very sharp, downward spiral, but particularly in the case of, of business founders who just don’t know what to do, and they.
The Jack Daniels and cartoons scenario starts to come into play. So I guess if, if you’ve got friends or if you’re working with families or if, if you’re in business with your family yourself, and you’re seeing that this is potentially on the horizon, having the conversations about. In a constructive and supportive way rather than thinking, well, money’s going to solve every problem.
Anyway, the 16 that you were, why is anyone with $60 million is going to have any problems? It’s a very naive view and it’s a very. Wrong view in, in, in my eyes that money doesn’t solve the problems. It perhaps creates more options and alternatives, but it doesn’t solve our human needs to have our needs met our emotion, emotional kind of wellbeing looked after.
Denise Logan: it’s not, it’s not only naive. It’s damaging for an advisor or a family member. To not explore that conversation is damaging. So we have the opportunity to have deeper conversations and some of how we prepare ourselves to have them is we do this work for ourselves. We ask ourselves these questions, what does work provide for me?
And what am I doing to get those needs met in other ways, outside of my business. Hmm. When I start to explore that for myself, I have much more empathy for my client. I’m also more able, you know, to kind of press the nonsense button. I’m like, Hmm, that’s a shallow answer. Let me dive a little bit deeper.
Let me see what’s happening because when we focus exclusively on the money or the transaction, and we ignore the transition, what we see is owners ask for an unrealistic amount of money. Or they set up what look like transactional barricades that are not at all about the transaction. Those are moments when you realize, Oh, this is an emotional transition.
That the person is navigating over and over. I will say that to advisors, this is a transition, not a transaction, and it is the single largest transition in this person’s adult life, other than end of life. And it is our duty to shepherd them carefully through this and place them gently on the other side, not to rush them through and dump them out of the cart and move on to the next deal.
That is so not what our goal is. And so when we talk about retirement, I taught a workshop recently called is retirement, a dirty word. And it was for a bank who brought in some of their business owners. And one of the things that I said is retirement for us will not look like retirement for our parents and grandparents.
I’m going to use a us reference, but we are not going to be satisfied, playing golf and waiting for wheel of fortune to come on and feel like, I don’t know what the equivalent we had that game show.
Russ Haworth: We don’t have any more, but we’ve had wheel of fortune.
Denise Logan: Well, no, right? That is not different grandparents playing golf or playing.
Bridge and having your early bird supper and watching wheel of fortune, it felt like a satisfying retirement that will not be so for us. And it behooves us to be thinking, Hmm. Where will those needs get met because they’re not going away.
Russ Haworth: And I think part of the reassurance that can be offered to people who might be listening to this who are saying, yeah, this is me.
I I’m recognizing in myself a lot of what’s been said today. The reassurance should come in, that there are ways to replicate the qualities you get from work, outside of work. And it’s having that faith of knowing that that can happen. Can help to people to express their views more as well is if they feel hopeless and go, there’s no point me mentioning it because there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
It becomes easier to bury that under the surface and create the other reason why this transactional succession can’t happen. But if you can understand that, that it’s common. There are other people that have gone through it, and there’s other people that have made a good example of it. Then it can give you that reassurance to approach that with some enthusiasm, rather than trepidation.
Denise Logan: And also to think there is more to the other side of owning our business. Then I’ll often hear people say, well, I don’t like how much charity work can I do? I’m like, Oh, poor friend. That is not the only thing that you can do that may or may not meet someone’s basic needs. That they were getting met from their business.
So, you know, can I talk a little bit about the framework of the book?
Russ Haworth: Yeah.
Denise Logan: So a lot of these things are covered in the book, the seller’s journey, and it’s written not as a how to book. It is definitely not a prescriptive. Here’s how you sell your business book. It is about the journey that an owner goes on.
So it’s set up as a business fable. It’s the story of a business owner. One year after he sells his business and he goes on a trip across glacier national park with his banker, his lawyer, his financial advisor, and the buyer of his firm. And they go on this trip as they’re crossing the glacier. They relate the physical obstacles that they’re facing to the emotional obstacles that he faced in the process of letting go of his business.
It’s written that way so that an owner can fall into the story and see, Oh my gosh, I didn’t even have language. For what I’m worrying about, or I see a way around this now, because I see someone else who’s done it differently. And each of the advisors who are represented in the story are also emotionally present with this owner.
They’re aware of what the transition is. And so as they have gone through the transaction, it offers a little roadmap. For each of the advisors who are helping someone through a transaction to say, Oh, I see that. And here’s what I see the character in the book who’s in my role did to help that owner it’s designed as something to give to an owner or a perspective client, to be able to say, I know at some point you will want to sell your business.
And so here’s a book. For you to have, and let’s talk a little bit about what the owner in the story faces, because that’s a really ease, filled way for the owner to be able to relate something that they’re experiencing or worried about without feeling so vulnerable. It bonds them very closely to their advisor and allows for these kinds of conversations that we’re having.
It is. It’s really written as a tool to allow these conversations to happen and to give owners insight into, Oh, this is possible. And I see a way,
Russ Haworth: I love the phrase you used there of being emotionally present. But for people. And I think it’s very easy. as a professional advisor to say, well, my remit, my, my guard rails that I’m operating too is I’m here to deal with the transaction.
I’m here to deal with the technical stuff. And it’s not my job to question. Well, what is it you’re going to be doing with your time after this? I mean, the financial planners, perhaps sober a lawyer that perhaps is engaged to deal with the transactional side of things might not feel they have the permission to inquire around this, but what I’ve sort of gone, taken from our conversation is that.
It hugely enhances the relationship you have with your professional team. If you are able to have those discussions and it enhances the trust that exists between them. And so if that’s something that then is known in that marketplace, you’re going to be, you know, you’re going to be the people that business owners or family business owners will go to.
To have those conversations because they know they they’re in safe hands. They can be trusted. Then you’re not just going to be cold and deal with the transaction and put them in the in the done pile and move
Denise Logan: Absolutely. And you know, only one third of businesses that go to the market to sell actually conclude successfully.
Wow. That is a flat out tragedy because for most business owners, they intend to fund their retirement with the proceeds from the sale of their business. So if we are not helping them harvest that wealth from their business, I’ll just put it in the context of a financial planner or a wealth manager. You can run all of the best planning software that you want.
You can run a thousand Monte Carlo simulations if none of the wealth pours into the financial plan, all of that was for nought. So if you’re feeling like, Oh, I can’t really have these conversations. Only one third of the businesses that go to the market successfully sell. We have to do better. And one of the major reasons that businesses do not sell is because of sellers remorse.
The owner gets scared. They don’t know what’s going to happen. They’re too afraid to even have the conversations or plan for them, or none of the advisors we co we like to think of ourselves as trusted advisors, trusted advisors have relationships. That are filled with trust and to have a trust filled relationship ship means caring deeply about your client, not just about their wealth, not just about their transaction, but being very deeply involved in making sure that they successfully conclude this because the reality is every owner will leave their business.
Voluntarily or involuntarily. Every owner leaves their business. And for an advisor who does not help their client prepare for an inevitable transition, that is a failure. And we must do better as an industry. The selfish reason why an advisor? Cause I can hear advisors sometimes say, I don’t have time for this.
I don’t have time for all this soft stuff, Denise. Like, do you have time to work a deal that doesn’t close? Probably not. Do you have time to keep chasing referral sources that never materialize into anything? I promise that trust filled relationships. Create the deals that close with ease and those owners who we shepherd carefully through the process and place gently on the other shore become our best referrals.
And the transaction is not over when the transaction is over for our owner. There is long-term transition that happens for them. Can I tell you the story of one adviser who used this well? So he provided a book to a prospect and started a conversation with him, sent him the book with a little post-it note on it that said, thought of you.
When I read this book, couple of weeks later, he called that person up and had a conversation about the book, not about. Can I manage your wealth or can I sell your company was in the process of building a relationship. And as they went through the process, eventually the owner did sell that company and they stayed in touch.
We see owners who, as they get close to the end of the transaction, start to realize I’m going to miss them. When the transaction is done well, they will miss their advisors and they feel shy about saying, huh, is this it? If we don’t bond with them, they will think we are in it only for the money. And they will become resentful of the fees that they pay to the attorney or the banker or their manager or their wealth manager.
So from a self-interested perspective, if. You don’t have a heart like you, cause you should do this because it’s the right thing to do. But from a self-interested perspective advisors who do this in this particular transition, the owner and the advisor stayed in touch, they would golf. Periodically might catch up for a beer almost three years later that owner invited the advisor to go on a golf trip to the masters tournament.
With him. Yeah. I mean, it wouldn’t everyone here is like, why didn’t in that client. He invited them them to come on this trip with him. And while he was there, he introduced him to his very best friend who was about to sell his company. Right. And owners will continue. Can you to make referrals? They will look for reasons to connect you to the people you want to be your clients.
If you show up like the kind of advisor.
Russ Haworth: Absolutely.
Denise Logan: We have permission to care about our clients and it, for our, for our owners. I know it’s trite, but I named it the seller’s journey for a reason, because it is a journey. It is not a moment in time.
Russ Haworth: Yeah, and I think we’ve mentioned it already, but a lot of the focus can be on that single point in time that the date of the signature, when that is just one day in this journey, the process in our lives and living.
I’m a strong advocate for the fact that life isn’t a rehearsal. So we can’t come back next time and go, well, I’ll do that differently. I’ll do that differently. It’s very easy to say that, but much, much harder to actually put that into practice, but it’s worth it because you then. If you can live a fulfilled life, irrespective of whether you’re within the business or outside of a business, not only is it a far better outcome for you, but it sets a fantastic example for those generations that are following that.
It doesn’t have to mean I work here until the day I die or I work here until I’m too old to actually enjoy the fruits of my labour and what it’s all been been for. And it becomes something that expands. Fall beyond just what you’re doing as an individual influences those that you most care about around you as well.
Denise Logan: Absolutely. You know, you w one of the comments that I want to make is when you said, you know, it’s not just the moment that the signature happens. And if I even think about how that signature happens, it’s not like it was, I don’t know if you ever had this experience when you bought a house Russ, but I’m a little older than you.
So I remember when I bought my first house, There was actually a closing table. Like we refer to the closing table, but we went to the attorney’s office and the sellers were their husband and wife and my husband and I were there and they signed the documents and pass them around to us. And we signed them in the pen, moved around the table.
They’d probably be prohibited now, coronavirus, we can’t touch the pens. We can’t be in the office. And then there was a check that was handed over. And we had a gift for them and they had a gift for us, and that created a sense of closure and completion that does not happen anymore. Instead, everything is done electronically.
Everything is done by remote signature. The owner never even holds. It’s not like they get the big publishers clearing house. You know, you just won a million dollars by ed bank, man. They never even hold the check. Yeah. So when we think about the experience of loss, You know, there are reasons why we have graduation ceremonies and weddings and baptisms and all the things we do funerals.
The reason we have those is to Mark transition. It’s important for advisors and owners and family members to think about how we Mark the transition and there’s language that we use in the industry, which is so heartbreaking for me after a deal is done. Often the advisors will publish. What’s known as a tombstone.
Russ Haworth: Yeah. Oh,
Denise Logan: all right. You just heartbroken. Don’t call it a tombstone. This is a celebration. What must it feel like to be an owner and hear that and feel that, so the work that we do in preparing them to step from one side to the other, it’s not dumping them. It is walking with them. If we think about. How much faith it takes for an owner to invite an advisor into this process.
It Is super vulnerable. It takes great faith and trust, and they are interesting to us. Their most prized possession, maybe beyond their children or maybe their, sometimes the business trumps children’s spouse. But when we, as advisors, remember that this is a gift, they are offering us to walk them through this.
They entrust their most prized possession session to us. And this is sacred work. We do for the advisors who view this work this way, they find so much more satisfaction, so much more fulfillment, and they also have the benefit of even better referrals that come.
Russ Haworth: Couldn’t agree more.
Th Denise I’ve absolutely loved our conversation. But before we tell our audience how to find out a little bit more about you and your website and the book, et cetera, could you share with us your number one tip for somebody who’s listened to this and it’s. It’s hit a nerve. It has made them think this is, this is me.
I’m in this process and I know I’m not comfortable with certain elements of it. How do they go about starting those conversations to, to help them get through this?
Denise Logan: You’re not alone in this process. It can feel very lonely, whether you are the owner or the advisor. It can really feel like I’m the only one going through this. And I think being able to say, I need to slow down a little bit so I can catch up. Sometimes we get really focused on pushing and rushing the process, slowing down a little bit.
There’s a children’s game called in the U S they call it shoots and ladders. I know someone in Canada told me that they call it shoots and stuff. Snakes and ladders,
Russ Haworth: Snakes and Ladders In the UK as well. Yeah.
Denise Logan: If you think about that children’s game, we’re trucking along the board and all of a sudden you make a good spin and you go up the ladder and you’re like, woo, I’m really racing ahead.
And two moves later, you hit a chute or a snake and you slide down on the board and it feels so discouraging. In that moment, when we’re able to place ladders of trust, near shoots of despair, we’re able to make it all the way to the end and see what comes on the other side. So there are moments when it feels despairing, or I can’t do this another moment or someone wants to rush.
It’s a moment to take a bigger view of the board. And also just to slow down a little bit and reach for someone’s hand in the transaction. If you’re an advisor, reach for your client there, if you’re an owner reach for one of the advisors, someone in every team is more emotionally available than the others, even though my mission in the world is to help make all of them able to do this work, reach to the person who you feel safest with.
Russ Haworth: Fantastic. Thank you very much. Denise and where can our audience find out more about you? Your speaking and the book that you have written?
Denise Logan: Oh, thanks. Russ. My website is Denise logan.com and the book is called The Seller’s Journey. It’s available on my website and there’ll be an audio version available in January.
When you listen and you can also purchase that on my website, it’s a really fun reading. And I’m available to step in and help advisors and their teams understand this emotional journey better and to prepare their owners so that more owners successfully cross this threshold.
Russ Haworth: Fantastic. And we will provide links to those in our show notes. But for now, Denise, thank you so much for your time, your insight. I always love our conversations and this has been no exception. So thank you very much.
Denise Logan: Thanks Russ.