How to Use Advisory Services to Move Clients to the Cloud
Posted on 10th August 2017 in Advisory
Written by Freya Hughes
It can feel like falling at the first hurdle when you’re attempting to convince clients to migrate to the cloud. Many business owners that have been professionals in their fields for many years will be stuck in their ways, unable or unwilling to see the benefits of updating the way they operate. We find ourselves shouting from the proverbial rooftops about how essential cloud working is, to business owners and accounting firms alike. But when you’ve made the change and can’t get your clients behind you, what should you do next?
It may be tempting to allow your clients to choose the way you run their accounts, but you must keep in mind that the way you operate your practice is up to you, and you alone. When we caught up with Martin Bown of My Management Accountant, he told us he won’t work with a client who isn’t on the cloud, continuing to explain:
“Getting our client onto Xero and off Sage meant we saved them two weeks per month on invoicing. The cloud is such a brilliant resource, and being on it gives you access to software like FUTRLI.”
Martin’s main bugbear was the amount of time it took him to complete tasks for his clients. Understanding that advisory services impact on his own and his clients’ bottom line, and raised efficiency across the board, he is certainly flying the flag for Xero. Automation built into the software means he can charge clients for valuable services, so the people he works with are actually sending less money on their accounting, and getting a lot more out of it.
Get the conversation off to a flying start
With a wealth of accounting professionals in our community, we’re lucky enough to learn from a range of firms about what’s best for clients. What is unanimous from these firm owners, is the importance of talking. Listening is a very underrated quality, but one that our client, Owner of Illumin8, Andrew Van De Beek has evolved his firm around. He spends the first meeting he has with his clients just talking to them to get a good grasp of what they’re all about, who they are and where they’re going. His technique is to draw a graph for the client to mark where they think they are progress-wise. After some time discussing, Andrew will then place his own mark on the graph. This highlights where clients may be missing out on opportunity, so that paves the way for the next conversation of how to get them turning as much profit as possible. Read the full case study here.
So taking technology out of the client meeting is a great way to get started. If you come on too strong with how great Xero, or the cloud itself, is then you’ll risk sounding like a software reseller. These platforms have their own sales teams, and are supposed to work for you – not the other way around.
Talking to clients about their business is the only way you’ll be able to help them grow. You need to gauge where the gaps in your client’s knowledge are. Sit down and brainstorm ideas about how they could grow their business, and make sure you actually go down to where they’re based. You must be asking them a whole host of questions too. Do they set targets? Are they being met? How do they use the results to learn and grow? Do they input their figures into a forecast? Make sure you know as much as possible about their operations.
Identify their pain
Keep on asking questions. Drilling down into the figures of a business will give you a good idea of how they’re likely to perform in the coming years, but asking them which KPIs they measure, and similar will also show how much they know about their own company. Most business owners won’t shut up if you ask them about their future plans, so embrace this! It’s great to see a client’s eyes light up when talking about their company, so let them do so. Explore where they struggle too, and get to the bottom of why they’re not succeeding at the rate they could be. It’s around now that you could bring software into the conversation. Input their actual figures into a forecast and show them how much better their results would be if they followed and listened to their forecast.
Andrew of Illumin8 actually shows his clients his own forecast and results. Now this is a very transparent way of working, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but he tells us it indicts an element of trust from the off. If his clients see how well he is doing, and how easy it is to monitor core revenue streams, they’ll be confident that the software will do the same for them. He explains: “They trust me more as they’re my numbers and I’m not afraid to show them. It’s always a really easy conversation. I can even show them a decision I had made three months back to hire someone and can show clients how that affected everything via the reports.”
Now get the software out
You need to be showing your clients that your way of working is best. Play with the forecast with them to show how quickly adjustments can be made. As Andrew shows, a great way to do so is to ask them if they’re looking to hire or expand. Input the scenario into the platform and show how, within minutes, they’d be able to make a strong, informed decision about their business.
Selling your services – not leading with the software you use – is going to align your firm with leaders in the space. The flexibility of service selling is going to help you win and keep clients, as you’ll be able to develop services in alignment with that your clients really want and need. Besides, any business owner in the world would want to opt in to a service which allows them to see where their business stands at a quick glance of their phone or laptop!
For one of our clients, Owner of Crystal Castle tourism site Naren King, running a successful business in Australia from the beaches of Bali is how he chooses to make the most of the cloud! Read the full case study here. Each of his team are aware of the KPIs that they’re responsible for, and the team frequently meet and analyse their results. Naren can log in and see his entire business as a snapshot, knowing every member of staff is pulling their weight, from chefs to teenagers painting kids’ faces. Having clarity around the numbers in the business has made a really positive impact on the company, and the team works together as a unit now more than ever.
Before working with your firm, there’s a strong chance your clients simply weren’t aware of working on the cloud. Now your clients understand there is a better way of working, it’s time to present them with an all-in-one forecasting tool. FUTRLI is designed to make reporting on figures easy, quick and simple. When you present the platform with your own branding, you’ll be reinforcing your brand and ensuring their figures are accurate and easy to access. It’s win-win for your firm, and your clients will thank you for saving them money and stress. FUTRLI will unlock valuable insights into their data, positioning you and your firm as leaders in the advisory space.