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Know Your Accounting Clients Needs And Close The Deal – Practice Builder Publishing – Tools & Resources For Accountants And Tax Practitioners

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Know Your Accounting Clients Needs And Close The Deal

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Almost every practitioner I talk to talks about their skill at making sales. But, every time I ask them about the ‘Client Needs Analysis’ portion of their sales presentation, I get rambling, poorly thought out answers to how they determine a clients needs.


Now granted, almost every small business needs an outside accountant to do things like review the bookkeepers work, make closing entries and prepare the company tax returns, so there’s a lot of work out there.

But, practitioners still lose clients and have to replace them just to maintain their status quo. Client churn is a fact of life in the tax and accounting business. It is every practitioners goal to minimize that churn.

One way churn is reduced is through the addition of multiple services to your portfolio. I know, I did it back in the 80’s and got an immediate fifty-percent reduction in client churn. My average client was staying with me twice as long just because I added payroll check writing to my practice.

Things are a bit harder today. All that low hanging fruit has been gobbled up as automation has creeped into our lives.

At a recent CFO Innovation conference in Indonesia, Cesar Bacani predicted that Blockchain will decimate the auditing business and possibly eliminate the double-entry accounting system we have used ever since Fra. Luca Pacioli reduced it to a writing in the fifteenth century. If his prediction becomes reality, what can an ordinary local practitioner do to survive?

Successful practitioners are dusting off the cobwebs that crept over the basics they were taught at university, moving away from the transactional (price sensitive) work of the typical local practitioner, and returning to their roots in knowledge business, working to solve the needs of their clients.

And, that’s where accountancy, and Rainmaker, marketing shine the brightest.

At its basic level, Rainmaker marketing is all about positioning yourself as an expert who can solve the needs of your prospect better than an alternative, whether it is a direct or indirect competitor.

You know your skills, what you can and cannot accomplish, but your market is defined by the needs you can satisfy. So, if that skill you spent two years learning is not something your market needs, then you just wasted two years of your time and have no hope of recovering, unless you can find clients who need that skill, and you can include it in you offering.

That my friend, is where a ‘Client Needs Analysis’ will help.

And, where you have the ability to save time, and your reputation.

If you perform a Client Needs Analysis, and determine that the client has no need for that new skill, it is easy to refine your offering to fill the needs they do have.

Now, a needs analysis is more than asking a prospect what they need, or what problems they are trying to solve. Those are valid questions, but if you’re going to be of use to them, and get those higher fees you’re trying to get, then you need to learn a bit about being a detective, and being a salesperson.

About now you should either be saying something to yourself like ‘This guy is full of baloney, I sign almost everyone I talk to,’ or ‘Okay, smartypants, where do I start with this mystical Client Needs Analysis?’

Well, dear friend, old buddy, old pal, if you think you have this needs analysis thingy down so well that you don’t need to hear any more, just click on the ‘Niches’ link in the menu up top and go buy one of the Industry Specific Marketing Kits, and go sign up a client in whatever niche you select. Me, I’m going to write a bit about the process for all those other folks who will probably be taking your clients when they discover how to fill your clients needs.

So first thing I suggest is do some research. Here is where Google is your friend. Look up their website, find several products or services that they offer, look at what appears to be their sources of income or revenue streams. Find out what the trends are for them and the industry regarding those revenue streams, products and / or services, and see what the competitive landscape is like.

[bctt tweet=”So first thing I suggest is do some research. Here is where Google is your friend. Look up their website, find several products or services that they offer” via=”no”]

See if you can find trends that are impacting their business or niche. Being aware of trends will help set you up with a preface question that gives you their own insights, and fills in the blanks in your research.

If possible, talk to someone in that particular niche who might be willing to act as a mentor and who can provide you with niche or industry insights prior to your first meeting with the prospect. It can also help you understand more about who you are meeting with and allow you to quickly build rapport and get better answers to your closed end questions.

Speaking of questions, your client needs analysis should be almost completely made up of open-ended questions. For example, asking ‘What do you see happening on the production line during the day that is different from what is happening on the night shift?’ will give you more information than ‘Is the day shift more productive than the night shift?’

[bctt tweet=”Speaking of questions, your client needs analysis should be almost completely made up of open-ended questions.” via=”no”]

One of the things to remember is that you absolutely must keep all your questions timely and topical. For example, if your research, or the answer to an earlier question gives you information that indicates something has happened that affects the current topic of discussion, it is okay to mention your observation and ask another open-ended question about the observation.

When beginning your discussion, start with easy questions that can help you build rapport.

For example, ‘What are your duties primarily composed of here?’ or ‘what goes on in that department?’

And, by all means, don’t ask something that you ‘should’ know. Have a list of a half dozen powerful open ended questions that you could not answer with your pre-emptive research. Then just a few tied down queestions to get confirmation.

Finally, when you have completed your needs analysis, its time to leave. I repeat, its time to leave.

Thank the prospect for their time, let them know that you think you’ve gotten a good understanding of their situation, but you want to go through all the information, and talk with the members of your team, so you can develop a solution that will meet their needs more accurately than a generic service you provide to others. Ask if you can meet with them in a couple of days to go over your proposal, which is when you will ask for the engagement.

Your prospect may be a bit surprised that you don’t try to sign them up right then and there, but it is important for them, and for you, to make sure that you understand their needs, and that your solution fills the need, or needs.

Join us here at Practice Builder Publishing and become a part of the community, whether you become a contributing author, a peer recruiter, or merely a raving devotee of the Practice Builder Publishing resources, I'll work with you personally so you can reach the goals you set.

Best to you and yours,




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