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As a professional advisor and investment banker, the most important aspect of an engagement is managing the client’s expectations. In fact, it is even more crucial to conduct a thorough interview with the prospect to set those expectations.

What should you identify and clarify in the interview? Here are some of the key issues:

  1. The reason(s) for and level of commitment to an exit or capital sourcing and their rationale behind it. The necessity of a reasonable retainer is foremost an indicator of the prospect’s level of intent.
  2. The explanation of the potential length of the process and the due diligence participation needed from the company.
  3. The prospect’s desired value, the minimum acceptable, and whether either is a deal breaker.
  4. When there are bumps in the process, their trust in our advice and counsel to correct the course.
  5. How long it will take them to provide current, accurate financials and the state of the accounting systems in place.
  6. Can they easily explain their unique selling proposition and the near-term revenue and profit growth.
  7. How often they want communication of our progress, and what that entails.
  8. Desire to eliminate selling to competitors, or instead delay contact with them long as possible until later in the process.
  9. Can they easily explain any company problems and/or deficiencies and how those will be resolved.
  10. Since we are interviewing each other, identify any vibe or constraint present that does not seem warranted.