Become a Trusted Advisor to Your Clients
More and more accounting professionals are changing the way they do business. They now offer services that touch their clients more often. With this strategy, you position yourself as a trusted advisor. This one move separates you from the competition.
That’s because your clients are the reason you’re in business. Does your business development plan include a client experience strategy?
Ask yourself how client meetings paired with your accounting services fits into your business model. If you’re seeking loyal clients who value what you offer, then step up as a trusted advisor.
Consider the consultants you’ve sought out for their knowledge and expertise. Well, you can offer a similar service too.
Your insights, experiences, resources, and connection, known as intellectual capital, are more valuable than you may realize.
Instead of minimizing what’s in your brain, we want to highlight it. Your ideal clients actually want your input and guidance. Because they already value your relationship, they’re highly receptive to your insights.
Client advisory meetings extend beyond apps and tools. Your clients meet with you to discuss their wants and needs. The traditional accounting work is a service you offer, but your intellectual capital is why clients stay with you.
Shifting from a traditional accounting practice to an advisory position is a process. Working closely with accounting professionals on this, we develop packages which touch clients more often. Since client needs vary over time, this strategy often leads to offering more services to your existing clients.
Significantly Influence Your Clients
Don’t underestimate your expertise and value. Your clients appreciate your insights. But, they may not realize the full range of your expertise. If that’s the case, then it’s up to you to educate them on the additional ways you can support them.
Yes, the accounting services you offer do matter. Realize, however, every similar accounting firm has access to the same applications and technology. As a result, this access levels the playing field for accounting professionals who offer a similar service.Every accounting firm has access to the same applications and technology. Check out the solution to stop competing. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet
So how do you differentiate your practice from others? Take the lead by improving the client experience. As a trusted advisor, you nurture the relationship with your current clients. Become familiar with their business and offer strategic recommendations which your clients can apply.
Case Study of Strategic Change
Recently while guiding an accounting professional, Jamie, on how to shift from hourly billing to value-based pricing, we discussed ways her firm could add value. Although the base of her work concerns taxes, we transitioned her business focus from compliance to trusted advisor.
First we identified her core values and unique talents. Then we integrated them into her client experience model.
Jamie’s training in finance and operations had been downplayed. It was time to fix that. Her background as a finance manager for a Fortune 100 company makes her uniquely qualified to advise her clients on managing their money.
Jamie modestly admits this is something she typically gives away for free. She didn’t consider charging for it since she genuinely enjoys advising her clients.
She wondered how to charge for something which is currently freely given. Like many accounting professionals, Jamie first needed to acknowledge her value.
This is a mindset shift. After this step, Jamie created packages which highlight her expertise.
As she shifted from hourly billing to value-based pricing, Jamie modified her consultation process. She started to ask better questions during her initial consults. Her confidence grew as she practiced communicating her value.
By the way, all of her packages and offerings now include client advisement meetings.
Trusted Advisor Strategies
Jamie said, “There’s no use sending my clients reports, if they don’t know what they mean. Why do the work if that simply ends up getting deleted or never opened?”
Because of this specific concern, Jamie teaches her clients how to understand the numbers. The numbers offer a wealth of information. It tells the story of their business.
She discusses how to strategically grow their business based upon the numbers in the report. Now plugging money leaks, pricing accuracy and opportunities for her clients to make more money are discussed during client advisory meetings.
Prevention is less costly than intervention. So why fix a problem which can easily be avoided? Forecasting allows clients to strategically plan for the future, taking calculated risk.
Since Jamie regularly meets with clients, they frequently consult with her about their plans before they act.
Business owners who are risk-adverse find her guidance affects their decision making. Reviewing the numbers beforehand has saved several of her clients from making costly mistakes.
Nothing builds trust more than honesty and direct communication. The truth is the only way clients can make informed, educated decisions.
Each business has its weak spots and bottlenecks. Those areas either need to be adjusted or ditched. During client strategy meetings, she uses a whiteboard to sketch out the step-by-step plan to resolve those areas.
The numbers and reports intimidate several of her clients. She doesn’t want their eyes to glaze over during their advisory meetings. So rather than make them feel ignorant, she simplifies the information. With this approach, her number-phobic clients find the information digestible instead of overwhelming.
How you communicate matters as much, if not more, than what you say. When discussing hard business decisions, Jamie believes sugar coating, or talking around difficult subjects, leaves clients confused.Going from compliance to trusted advisor is a paradigm shift. It highlights what you know instead of what you do. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet
Give your clients the benefit of the doubt. Be open and frank. As a trusted advisor, point out issues which need attention.
Success is messy. Like all business owners, her clients experience ups and downs. She loves to celebrate their joys alongside them. During tough times, however, Jamie prefers empathy to criticism. Blame doesn’t resolve anything.
She does not minimize their experience by telling them it’s okay. Instead she acknowledges their perception. However, focusing solely on how tough things are isn’t her style.
Nothing’s all black or white. A strategic review about what happened identifies the pros and the cons. The insight gained from this discussion then influences her client’s next best move.
Follow through builds trust. It’s a matter of integrity. Actions speak more loudly than words.
Jamie prides herself on meeting deadlines. If she can’t, then she informs her clients about the change. Trust needs to be earned. However, it can be lost very, very quickly.
Time is valuable. Client consultations, whether in-person or virtual, deserve her full attention. All distractions are turned off or silenced. This includes emails, phone, background music, etc.
Plus, body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and movement shows she’s intently listening.
Jamie’s dedicated to setting her clients up for success. Tax compliance is something Jamie does for her clients. Her expertise and insights add incredible value.
For years she gave this information away for free. By bringing her knowledge front and center, she’s discovered renewed enthusiasm. Meeting with her clients more often has revitalized her business. Working closely with her clients toward their success adds meaning to her work.
The Trusted Advisor Edge
Going from compliance to trusted advisor is a paradigm shift. It highlights what you know instead of what you do.
First answer these questions. What’s your expertise? How does that benefit your client? What is your client experience like?
Then create packages which include advisory meetings. Next, shift from hourly billing to value based pricing.
Finally, get ready to attract clients who appreciate your insight.
A move like this challenges your current beliefs and values. Lack of confidence is often the biggest roadblock. Is your mindset open to this change? The advantages of adding a client experience strategy and becoming a trusted advisor extends beyond the obvious. You’ll grow personally and professionally with this move.
Shifting the base of your business from operations and compliance to serving as a trusted advisor requires a change in mindset. This shift can challenge accounting professionals who base their business on compliance and reporting.
Follow these recommendations to step up as a trusted advisor. Discover how to get paid for work you currently give away for free. Right NOW claim your FREE RESOURCE to earn more without working more.