Why first impressions count


Ever wonder why Japanese food looks so good? It all stems from a first century Roman called Apicius, who coined the phrase “we eat first with our eyes”.

With Japanese food, great care is taken on presentation as it is firmly believed that how the food looks will have an impact on its taste. This has now been proven to be a true by scientific research (“You eat first with the eyes”, Delwiche, 2012), so we should really give some kudos to Apicus for figuring this out so long ago!

But why, you may ask, is this have any bearing on selling your financial advice business? Well just as will most probably enjoy a beautiful meal more than one that looks like a dog’s dinner, buyers of your business will pay a premium, and be happy about the purchase, if it looks like an amazing business when they first see it.

Once a first impression has been formed, it takes a huge amount to change it. In fact, you’ll actively go out of your way to find things which back-up your first impression. This is called “confirmation bias” (“Watson’s Rule Discovery Test”, Watson, 1960) and can be your greatest ally, or your worst enemy.

Think for a moment about buying a car. You’re walking around the car whilst it’s on the forecourt on a cloudy day, and you see a scuff on one of the panels. For most people, the first reaction would be “Oh, a mark…….I wonder what else is wrong with it”. From that point onwards, you’re actively looking for further issues with the car to confirm your first impression that this is a car with problems.

Now think of the opposite experience. You walk into the showroom to see your new car polished to a mirror like finish. The lighting in the showroom has been adjusted to show every beautiful curve an angle to perfection and there’s a bottle of champagne on ice waiting to help celebrate. I think you’d agree from this experience, your first impression is pretty good and you will now be looking for things to back up that initial impression of how wonderful your new car is. If just before you drive off, you see that same scuff, it’s no longer a dealbreaker because your first impression was so positive.

This principle is exactly the same when selling your financial advice business. If you can make an amazing first impression with you buyer, they will experience the exact same confirmation bias and be looking for reasons to back up their initial thought that it’s a great business to buy. Clearly there is more than the first impression, and as the transaction continues there needs to be substance behind your claims, however the buyer will be looking for what’s right more of the time than looking for what’s wrong.

So, how to make amazing first impression?

From a career in financial services, I’ve found that people love a well-designed brochure. Not necessarily printed, as even a PDF that looks beautiful will help make a positive first impression.

Most sale conversations start with the advisor accepting an inbound call. From this point, the advisor is already on the back foot as somebody else is controlling the process. Imagine instead that you approach a consolidator to ask if they would be interested in purchasing your business and you send them over a professionally designed prospectus document with infographics showing information about your business, client bank and investments. This instantly communicates two things:

1.    You are prepared and have thought about the sale process

2.    You have high standards

But why is this a good thing? Any business purchase involves risk for the buyer. It’s a bet. They are purchasing a business on the hope of future returns, so are looking for anything which will help them gain comfort about the future prospects of the business, and therefore the potential return on their investment.

The very fact that you have a prospectus shows the buyer, but you’ve considered the sale process thoroughly and will give them the impression you are on top of every areas of your business. As the prospectus is professionally designed and well-presented, this shows you have high standards and again gives an insight into how you run your business on a day-to-day basis. As with many things we purchase, we are actually buying the seller as much as we are the product, and this shows you’re a good bet!

First impressions are just one part of the overall process. You’ll still have to tackle the arduous process of due diligence, for which you must thoroughly prepare, however, by presenting your business in the best possible light, you’ll create a great first impression with your buyer and tune in to their inbuilt confirmation bias.

Ultimately, it’s much better to have a buyer looking for reasons to support their decision to purchase rather than their first view being a “scuff on a panel” leading them to look for what else is wrong with your business.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you make an amazing first impression.


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