Stop selling to clients, start advising them - Futrli

Ron Pearson

The core of accounting advisory services is the relationship between client and accountant. It’s not about selling your product. Relationships must be built and maintained for you to really add value and start to advise your clients. Meeting once a year for compliance reasons is a thing of the past.

Build the relationship your clients need - get to know them

Advisory services are designed to put people first. They require you to get to know every member of your client portfolio and their (small) businesses properly beyond simply financial data. Start small when you meet and ask questions that they might find easy to answer.

  • What motivated you to start your business?
  • What gets you excited about your business?

Any entrepreneur will enjoy answering these questions about their businesses – you’re tapping into what they’re passionate about and not just traditional accounting and data. You’re likely to find these two questions are a great starting point to get to know the business owners you work with. As they’re quite broad, they lend themselves to long answers.

A useful tip for getting to know someone better is to just let them talk. When the other person in your conversation can see you’re looking for more, they’ll get into the swing of talking quicker than you might expect.

Getting to know clients better allows you to improve service or product development.

Create the future your clients want with advisory accountancy

Remember that teacher at school who asked you, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ That’s your role here: to ask the questions that matter and to guide clients towards achieving their goals. Building trust and a good rapport are crucial for making advisory a success. This, in turn, breeds loyalty and helps your clients get the future they want.

The people you work with would have started their businesses for a reason. Getting to the bottom of why will help you to take them closer to their goals. Dig deep: helping them achieve goals puts you in an amazing position to win their business for life.

If you can master this, you’ll be the go-to for small businesses/ small business owners. Every business owner needs advice and has their own accounting needs, so this is a lucrative move forwards for your firm.

Tips from our community for improving your advisory services

We caught up with Katherine Haines recently. She’s the owner of KHB Darwin, an advisory bookkeeping firm in Australia, who had fallen into the trap of just checking in with clients once a year. Read the full case study here. She told us, on introducing clients to advisory:

Leading up to the end of the financial year it was easy. I called a couple of clients and started talking to them about their goals for the next financial year. I wanted to know if they’d thought about where they should be by this time in their business journey, did they have any financial or non-financial goals, were they just winging it? A lot of them are! Everyone was receptive to this new way of working.

We also spoke to Simon Kallu, owner of GrowFactor in the UK. Simon’s firm also champions advisory, and knows the power of putting his clients at the forefront of his meetings. You can read the full case study here. He told us:

Firstly, we sit down with and focus on the client. We give them a brief overview of what we do then get them to fill in a questionnaire which generates a report about the strengths and weaknesses of their business and from that report we can identify what the top three issues are.

Simon and his team ask the following to make sure they take the correct course of action:

  • What are the top three things that keep you up at night?
  • Where do you feel like your business is strong and weak?
  • Have you got a cashflow forecast?

The main focus must be on the client, not their accounts. Investigating where they are now and where they want to be are massively important so that you can effectively diagnose what kind of help and services they’ll benefit from.

Value-based pricing

Getting to know your clients and improving advisory accounting allows you to introduce value-based pricing. Knowing their businesses better allows you to charge for tailored services which means increased profit for you and more pricing value for them.

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