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Attention Economy – Why Less is Often More

Attention Economy - Lily Head Dental Practice Sales

“Attention Economy – Why less is often more.”

One of the things we prepare our clients for is the viewings that prospective buyers undertake prior to making an offer.  This is often a new experience for our clients.  They can be apprehensive about how the meeting will unfold.  What will the buyer want to know?  What do I do if I don’t know the answer to a question?  Will they judge me?  How many people are coming?  What information should I not share? What discussions should I have and probably more important what should not be discussed?

I remind our clients that this it is an opportunity for them to get to know the prospective buyers.  Then to decide how they would feel about working alongside them as part of a handover.  It is also an opportunity for them to showcase their practice and discuss the more clinical aspects of the practice.

The meeting is not an opportunity for buyers do drill into the appointment book.  The CRM reporting, the financial performance of the practice or the patient list.  All that will be dealt with after they have had their offer accepted and during the due diligence process.

Vendors are reassured to know that we have conducted due diligence on the buyers to verify they are in a position to move forward with a credible offer.  There is no need for our clients to start discussing those kinds of topics with buyers during a practice viewing.

The most important thing is not to get into any kind of negotiation with a buyer during a viewing.  It is our job to represent the vendor in any kind of negotiations.  We understand the value of the business and are equipped with the information and skills to substantiate that value to buyers.  When this does happen it makes for some delicate discussions with buyers to explain that we are having to retract a verbal agreement made during a viewing.

Of course there is a sales element for vendors during a viewing.  It is important to hi light the benefits of their practice and hi light the reasons why it is a great example of that particular model of business.

But it is also possible to say too much and get involved in lengthy discussions which are not relevant to the buyer.

It was Herbert Simon, the American economist and Nobel Prize winner who said ‘A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.’

Herbert Simon published a white paper in 1971 accurately predicting that in an information rich world there is a scarcity of attention.  When you consider he presented this theory twelve years before the internet was even invented and twenty five years before the internet became widely available this was very insightful.

The essence of what he wrote was that when we are inundated with too much information and have too little time and attention to consume it we don’t fully understand it.

In this case, Simon defines attention as a slice of our overall mental processing capability.  That our attention is a limited resource.

In the case of our practice viewing.  Sellers must not provide the buyer with a ‘data dump’ of information as it compromises the buyer’s ability to digest and take on board information.   It is to be expected that the buyer is considering multiple opportunities and a wealth of information.

What Simon found in the research for his white paper was that we make rational decisions about how to allocate our limited attention across the multiple information sources demanding it.

In other words, we prioritise investing our time in those sources of information that provide the largest value.

It’s one thing to attract the attention of a buyer and get them to commit to a practice viewing. It’s another thing altogether to capture and hold onto their attention.

The value the buyer receives from you in exchange for the time they gave you is a fundamental building block of developing a relationship.

It’s the explicit bargain at the heart of every sales and purchase decision.  A buyer invests some of their time in you.  You must provide them value in return.

There must be an ROI on the time they invested in coming to your practice and meeting you.

When we engage with buyers we talk about the ROTI they can expect from us.  By that I mean the Return On the Time buyers Invested.

We should all strive to be ensure spending time to talking to us is a good use of the buyer’s time.

The great thing is that you don’t need more time with buyers because you can actually accomplish more with less of their time if you stay focused and share relevant and valuable information.

This article was written by Chris Mayor, Commercial Director of Lily Head Dental Practice Sales . It was first published in the June 2024 edition of The Probe.

If you would like to talk about anything to do with buying, selling or financing a dental practice anywhere in the UK then Contact Us today.

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