Selling Advisory Work is hard
When we started into advisory work, I noticed that clients often hijacked our meetings. Even when we began with a set agenda of Accounting issues, Tax matters and Business Performance.
I realised that the real problem was that client’s came in thinking about accounting and tax matters while I wanted to talk about their business performance.
I found it incredibly frustrating. Often we ran out of time for business performance, or the Client wasn’t open to a line of questioning about their business.
I also found that I was failing to convert or upsell them into any kind of advisory work. Some days I felt as though I was just pushing advisory at them like a dodgy salesman. None of it felt right, and I knew I needed a new approach.
What I really wanted was:
- a simple and relatively easy to implement strategy
- To have a valuable conversation (from the client’s perspective)
- my client’s permission to ask deeper questions
- to reposition myself as “more than a tax agent”
- to leverage the preparation work
Two Strategies for selling Business Advisory work
After much head scratching and experimentation with products, I was came up with two strategies that fitted my criteria.
1. More than just a tax agent
Two Year Tax Planning
This strategy included:
- Concept plan of this year,
- Then a forecast, and
- A plan for next year.
This strategy aimed to teach clients that they can forecast and plan for future tax needs, plus give them an experience of the value of monitoring. The 2 Year Strategy introduced deeper conversations, created trust and instilled confidence in the client about their proactive business planning / growth strategies.
Outcomes for the client & business growth:
- Gave clients an appreciation for future thinking
- Made clients think about strategy
- Stimulated the need for more advice
2. The Net Worth Review
This strategy included:
- Listing estimated values of all assets, including the home,
- Offsetting liabilities to determine Net Worth, and
- Reviewing their position annually.
The Net Worth Review was designed to have a more holistic conversation with the client. A conversation that stopped the operational talk and opened up conversations around vision, legacy and ensuring their kids’ futures.
Outcomes for the client and the firm
- Identified gaps in long term planning (or complete absence of),
- Made clients think about more than just their business,
- Opened up the need for strategy and monitoring services, and
- Proved the value of our advisory work.
How these strategies changed our firm, our business and me
The first thing I noticed following these strategies was that clients started talking differently to me. Right down to the language they used. Suddenly they began using a language that was more strategic in nature. For example, during a normal BAS call one client said “before we get on to the tax stuff, what do you think of this idea to increase profits”. I was able to truly become their business and wealth advisor, which changed their perspective of who I was for them.
The firm evolved our market place, and we became known as business accountants, which attracted even more business prospects seeking proactive advice.
Our average fee per client went up and the split of revenue moved from 85% compliance to 60% within 3 years. That is, 40% of our revenue came from advisory services.
Personally, I enjoyed what I was doing a lot more because I could clearly see how I was helping our clients. In turn, my client’s great results drove my satisfaction levels to new highs.
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“The clearer you are on your essential business building tasks, the easier it is to get them done because you understand how important they are and exactly how the firm will profit from their implementation.” – Andrew Robertson, TwentySix Group