Shift from Selling to Discovery Consultations
Accounting professionals often resist selling to clients. But, they need clients if they want to remain in business. Well, it’s time to stop selling. That’s because selling rarely engages potential clients. Discovery consultations are a better approach. These high value conversations focus on your client’s needs; therefore, they are more effective than a traditional sales conversation.
Ever talk with someone at a network event who never bothered to ask anything about you? Instead, he shares endless details about his business. After awhile your eyes start to glaze over. Now this business owner may geek out over his processes and systems, but it’s probably information overload for you.
Don’t be the person who unknowingly bores a potential client with the details. Discovery consultations, which I call value conversations, shifts the focus from you to them. Basically, you ask great questions during this guided exploratory conversation.
The initial value conversation serves a specific purpose. With great questions, you discover whether your service can solve a potential client’s problems. It’s pretty simple.
Let the Client Do the Talking
Pay attention to this section. Discovery consultations are not the time or place to fix any problems. Rather, you gather information about his specific problem.
A common sales phrase states telling is not selling. Although you may be enthusiastic to sign him on as a new client, control yourself. How? Create a list of specific questions. Then train yourself to listen to each answer.Sometimes your client’s problem is a mystery. Consider yourself a detective who scopes out the underlying cause. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet
Sometimes the client’s core problem is a mystery. Consider yourself a detective who scopes out the underlying concerns. Similar to a detective, you ask specific questions, keenly observe, and write down detailed notes.
Develop Your Discovery Questions
Develop specific questions which effectively guide the conversation. The right questions elegantly start to unravel the core problem.
Not all questions are equally effective. Some questions simply require a basic yes or no response. While other questions, call open-ended questions, engage conversation. How you phrase the question determines whether you receive an explanation or a simple one word answer.
Discovery consultations include four specific types of questions.
- What they want. Typically, this relates to the specific reason he scheduled a meeting with you. Ask great questions which dives into his vision and what he wants to achieve.
- The current situation. Discover his problems and frustrations. Remain patient as he explains his story. Consider the specific details you need to fully understand the scope of his problem. During this part of the conversation, I often find the root cause for the problem is something other than what he thinks it is.
- The cost of remaining stuck. Create some questions which uncover how the problem affects him now. Don’t overlook the cost of continuing to tolerate the problem.
- Resolution. I’m always curious to discover what’s possible once we resolve the problem.
Remember, discovery consultations are client-centered. Focus on the client and his current challenge.
Follow the 70 /30 Rule
Your questions encourage the other person to talk. Strive for a 70 / 30 balance. During discovery consultations you only talk about 30% of the time. This means the potential client does 70% of the talking.During discovery consultations you only talk about 30% of the time. This means the potential client does 70% of the talking. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet
Beware of very talkative people. If your potential client starts to veer off track, then gently redirect his thoughts to the question. Yes, this feels uncomfortable at first. But a talker knows he does this and will appreciate you redirecting him back to the topic.
Even if you’re not a natural conversationalist, this system works. You don’t want to interrogate potential clients. However, you do want to lead with a string of specific questions.
Your Role in the Conversation
You’ll probably want to fix the problem right then and there. Restrain yourself. This isn’t the time for fixing things.
Instead, it’s designed to discover the problem. And, for you to decide if this is someone you want to work with.
The tone starts to change toward the end of the conversation. If you’ve asked great questions which uncover his problem, he’ll recognize the value of your service. At this point, you’ll hear “how does this work?”
You then decide whether the client’s needs and your service are a good fit. Two choices exist. Either you’re not a fit or you are.
If the Client is Not a Fit
Sometimes the client’s not a match for your accounting practice. It’s only right that you let him know. Explain briefly that better options exist. If you know an accounting practice that’s a better match, then make a referral.
If the Client is a Fit
If the work interests you, then the conversation shifts. Review his immediate needs. Then explain how your services solves his needs. Next, discuss the various options of how you can work together.
Be mindful about remaining client-centered all the way through. Continue to focus on what’s in the best interest of the client as you discuss how to get started.
Then guide him through the decision process. This is the most critical part of discovery consultations. You already established yourself as a trusted advisor. Now help him determine his next best move.
Question, Listen, Take Notes
Leading a prospective client through an initial consultation requires you to ask questions, listen to the answers, take detailed notes, and make a decision. Often, ideal clients want to eliminate their problem.
Let the prospective client do most of the talking. It’s key to a value conversation. You’ll gain valuable insight into his current situation.
Are you ready to enroll clients who happily pay your fees? Then follow these recommendations to confidently communicate your value without being salesy. Right NOW claim your FREE RESOURCE to earn more while lightening your workload.