How to become a great advisor and sell your services

We get a lot of questions. Most of which tend to be about the best way to become an advisor.

What do business owners look for from advisors? Do business owners know the difference between compliance accountants and advisors? What about bookkeepers? How do you sell advisory to clients and prospects?

These are just a few of the numerous questions we receive on a regular basis from our community of accounting professionals.

Becoming a good advisor isn’t as difficult as you might think. There are a few qualities each seems to hold, most being:

  • Personable
  • Trustworthy
  • Supportive

It’s important to remember that you already hold most of the skills needed for advisory services. So what makes a great advisor?

  • Good at spotting trends and patterns
  • Can advise on how to avoid and mitigate risk
  • Know how to create bulletproof strategies for businesses

The chances are, you’re doing all of the above already. But if you’re not, then it’s time to refresh those skills. We’ve got an ebook ready for those considering advisory and needing a light recap session. We cover the benefits of Continuing Professional Development courses, how to achieve more with your clients and even suggest a roll out plan of action. Download it here:

Always be closing?

The second half of the puzzle is selling your services.

Our research shows clients don’t want to be sold to. And accountants aren’t really salespeople.

So how do we get around this?

Forming meaningful relationships with your clients will help you overcome these problems. A lot of people running businesses often do so with a guise of bravado. They’ll happily insist everything is fine and won’t ask for help when they need it. If you can prove your worth, in terms of trust and support, they’ll open up.

Next time you see your client, take a second.

Before cracking on with their usual work straight away, take a second to ask them how they are – both professionally and personally. These two are inextricably linked for many entrepreneurs.

It’s not about a hard push. Rather, you’re introducing a different style of relationship.

Let the conversation flow

What are your clients worried about? If you can answer this question for each client you’ve spoken to or seen recently, you’re on to a winner.

Answering and, crucially, solving their main pain-point should be number one on your to-do list.

It’s a simple thing to achieve: all you need to do is start talking.

We know how it goes – most of your clients will be thinking about 100 things at any one time. But, if you can pique interest with some insightful visuals, you’ll catch their attention for long enough to start adding value.

Mock up a simple forecast using actual data from their cloud accounting package, or even from a spreadsheet if that’s their current way of working. If it’s the latter, introduce the idea of cloud accounting shortly.

Get the figures from the last year into a projection and compare it to the coming year’s prediction of the business’ progress.

What differences can you see? Is there a big boost in revenue your clients could jump on? Are there seasonal fluctuations that need to be taken into consideration?

These kinds of questions are the core of advisory. The insight that tools currently on the market can provide has never been seen before.

Of course, you could try forecasting in a spreadsheet, but automation can cut that time to a fraction, so there’s no more manual torment haunting you anymore.

A retainer for the future

Once this initial meeting has gone swimmingly, where do you go from here?

There’s no one-size fits all solution, but we’ve worked out a great system you can use as a springboard.

Set goals for your client to start thinking about. Make them easy to achieve at first, then increase the difficulty.

For example, at the end of your first meeting, challenge them to put processes in place which will help them scale.

Let’s say your client wants to expand to new, larger premises with their trendy coffee shop. How can you guide them to achieve this? How much additional revenue would they get for increasing the price of their biggest selling item by a few cents or pence?

Add that little change into their forecast and see the results. There are plenty of other minor tweaks that can change the discourse of your clients’ businesses forever.

Keep playing with possibilities and see just how powerful advisory can be for the businesses you provide it to. You’ll see a positive trend with your clients’ data, your own revenue, and of course your relationship.