How to Pitch Advisory Services to Your Clients
Posted on 21st September 2017 in Advisory
Written by Freya Hughes
Fighting for clients amongst some stiff competition can feel like a battle. You’ve got to get your pitch right from the off as from your first impression right down to you sealing the deal, every second counts in this game. Business owners don’t always know who to sign up with, or even what they need, so you need to engage them and nail your pitch first time. From elevator pitching to the longer game, we’ve got some juicy tidbits from our community to help you win over clients.
One of our fabulous management accountants here at FUTRLI, Daniel Killoran, has some great advice to approaching clients with your services. You need to get your pitch right the first time, as people can be quite unforgiving about a bad first impression. With that in mind, here are a few questions to ask yourself, as Dan suggests, before you get started:
- What is the client’s ‘pain’ (problem they need solving)?
- What info do they need that they currently aren’t getting?
- What are they currently doing themselves (ie reporting, planning)?
- And why is that making their day more stressful (spending too much time, not trusting the output)?
Then run through different solutions, tailored to their needs. For example, suggesting one or two of your services (to not overwhelm them), like “you would benefit from XYZ, because they’ll reduce the time and energy spent on this process.” The most important thing to take from this is you’re aiming to help.
Create an elevator pitch
First things first, make and practice your elevator pitch. This needs to be a quick and concise, persuasive speech about what your services are and how they will help the client. Keep in mind that it’s called an ‘elevator’ pitch for a reason – it’s only meant to last the duration of a flight in a lift. If you can summarise your services in about 30 seconds, you’ll keep your audience engaged and wanting more. Imagine you hear 30 seconds of a song on an advert – it’s going to stick in your head better than hearing the entire tune.
When you’re creating your elevator pitch you need to work out the objective of your pitch and lead with it. Inject your firm’s USP, and consider including open-ended questions so you engage your audience. When you’re done putting this all together, practice it in front of your peers and see how it grabs their attention – or not. You’re selling yourself in a very short space of time so ensure you get those ever-important buzzwords in, like ‘growth’, ‘strategy’, and ‘forecast’.
Play the long game
Sometimes you won’t need to use an elevator pitch, as clients will contact you. They might not know what they need, but are aware they have to get an accountant. If it’s a phone call that connects you for the first time, make sure whoever is most likely to take the call has a professional manner and is well-versed in what your firm is about and what you offer. This will position the firm in a great way, and trust will begin to form from the off.
So once the first contact is positive, it’s time to sit down with your prospective client and really get through to them what’s important. Forbes have great advice to get your pitch right:
“Imagine somebody who doesn’t understand a single word of English is in the room with you, watching you speak. That person should get the impression you believe in what you are saying, know what you are talking about and are enjoying talking about it. Make sure your body language and tonality make people want to listen.”
You need to find your prospective client’s ‘pain’. They’re going to have a problem that needs solving, be it the need for additional cash, or whatever it might be. Entrepreneurs come across issues and problems constantly, and you can be the one to help them with their fire-fighting. Ask your clients a series of questions, including ones about their personal lives. Don’t go too deep, of course, but ask enough to be able to recognise what they want to achieve and why. Perhaps they’d like to pay for a family holiday, and they need you to tell and show them how you can help them achieve that. They’re aware that you will keep them compliant, but this is your chance to help them sustainably grow their company – and fatten up your firm’s cash position too. The personal touches here are going to grip the potential client, as they’ll see that you care about the bigger picture.
Ask what they’ve set out to achieve in the long run, what their short term goals are, where they’d like to be in the next five years, if they forecast, and if they’ve got a strategy in place to achieve any of this. You can mock up a quick forecast using their historical Xero figures using the ‘quick create’ function on FUTRLI, which will show them how they’re likely to do against these dreams they have.
Examples from our community
When clients prefer to pop in to see you, you need to make sure your office is presentable and welcoming. Falmouth-based The Peloton, a firm combining marketing and accounting, Marketing Manager Anna Carthew told us the firm has made a lot of effort to make their office welcoming and a fun place to be. “We do a lot of our business in the office, partly because of our great location just outside Falmouth but mainly because it’s a great space – open plan, light and a motivating place to work in. We all have lunch together as a team and one person cooks, so we try and schedule meetings just before so they can stay and eat with us.”
The personal touch of enjoying a home-cooked lunch is definitely The Peloton’s USP, and we’re not saying install a state of the art kitchen, but think outside the box when it comes to entertaining your clients. She goes on to tell us, “Our first step will always be to have a chat with the client to find out about their business. We will then put a quote together for a fixed-fee monthly subscription. We have guideline prices but each quote is totally bespoke and dependant on the needs of the client.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Owner of Illumin8 Andrew Van De Beek has a rather unique strategy too. He doesn’t talk about accounting at all in his first meeting with clients, as he knows there’s so much value in getting to know them as people, rather than simply being his clients. He’ll spend a full day at a person’s business sometimes, to really understand what they’re about and what they want to get out of their accounts.
The way Andrew gets his clients on board is to draw a graph on a board and ask them to put a cross where the business owner believes their company is in its lifespan. After discussing the ins and outs of the business in question, Andrew will place a cross where they actually are. This makes it glaringly obvious for both parties if the entrepreneur needs their services!
Emma Fox of Fresh Financials has found that new clients are actively hunting for her firm because of their focus on management accounting. She told us, “I’d say business owners are now making the decision that they want their accounts to work in this particular way. Then they find someone who will do management accounting, as opposed to ‘I need a bookkeeper, what does a bookkeeper do?!’ They’re definitely looking for it.” So the main focus if this happens is making the prospective client feel they’ve found the right accountant for them, who will go above and beyond to ensure their business is put first.
Client satisfaction has increased an astonishing amount, while retention is no longer even thought about as it’s at an all-time high. Emma concludes:
“Because we’re not spending much time getting the information into Xero, we’ve got the time to spend with our clients and do more in-depth processes. We’ll sit and have a chat, discuss things and look at the data together. It’s much more fun!”
Winning the deal
Sales pros Hubspot wrote an interesting article about different closing techniques earlier this year. While some are quite forceful, and we wouldn’t necessarily tell you to try them, there are a couple we love. Here are a few of our favourites:
- “It seems like [product] is a good fit for [company]. What do you think?”
- “What happens next?”
- “Unless you have any more questions or concerns, I think we’re ready to get started.”
- “Tell me your thoughts.”
- “We can take as long as you’d like, but I know [you’ve got another meeting at X time, this call is scheduled to wrap up in Y minutes]. With that in mind, maybe we should move to the actual agreement.”
As you can see from the above, you’re not ramming anything down the client’s throat, instead suggesting that you should move towards the end of the meeting or call. Given a deadline, many of us feel the need to resolve the conversation, so give these a go and watch your bottom line be impacted for the better.