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Get More Accounting Clients By Understanding Their Needs

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Clients look to you as an expert. What kind of expert they are looking for depends on their needs. So, if you want to keep your client, or get new ones, then you need to be able to know what needs you have to satisfy and how to satisfy them.

Before you can start trying to fill those needs, you have to know what they are, and there is only one way to figure that out, and that is to ask.

Of course you may not get an answer, but if you know what the right questions to ask are. amd how to ask them, then even if you don’t get an explicit answer, you are pretty close to figuring it out.

There are basically two kinds of questions you can ask, open ended, and tie down.

Open ended questions are questions you use to elicit information, whereas tie down questions are questions you use to elicit commitment.

Open ended questions can be further broken down into Background questions, Challenge questions, History of Critical Events questions, Urgency questions, Benefits questions and Solution questions, and they are best used in that particular order.

Basic Background questions might be something like:

  1. I’ve done some basic research on your company and feel like I have a decent understanding about your background, but I’d really like to have a better understanding from you. Could you please tell me a bit more about yourself, how you got into this business, and about your company?
  2. What are some of your company’s goals over the next year or two?
  3. What is working well for you now?
  4. Are there any areas where you see opportunities for improvement?

By asking background questions first, you avoid putting your prospect in a defensive position, and it warms them up for deeper questions.

By asking background questions first, you avoid putting your prospect in a defensive position Click To Tweet

You can continue on with challenge questions to get the prospect to start opening up so you can spend the bulk of your time bringing out their pain points. This is where you dig deep to find out the underlying issues and core challenges.

Examples of Challenge questions are:

  1. What problems do you see facing you and your company right now?
  2. Are these the same types of problems that are facing others in the industry?
  3. What do you find most challenging about these problems?
  4. When did you first start noticing these problems?
  5. Do you currently have anyone working with you to solve these problems, and if so, how effective are you finding them to be?

Once you master the art of asking Challenge questions, you will be able to get your prospect to tell you what problems they face and which ones they feel are most important to them and their business. As you continue on with the inteview, you will be able to determine if these problems are worth solving, and if you are the one who can solve them.

Once you’ve been able to identify your prospect’s most serious problems, it’s time to see if you can understand what caused the problem and see if you can find a different way of solving the problem.

This is a shorter phase of the needs analysis, but will help both you and your prospect understand why the staus quo isn’t good enough.

Here are a few questions to help you draw out the problem history:

  1. How were things before thtese problems developed?
  2. What happened to cause these prblems to escalate?
  3. What has changed to cause these problems to become so sereious?

Once you understand the history behind the prospect’s problems, and have an idea about what triggered their rise to the level of immediacy that the client faces now, you are ready to begin asking questions that identify the negative impact that will arise if the problems are not addressed.

Once you understand the history behind the prospect’s problems, and have an idea about what triggered their rise to… Click To Tweet

Your Urgency questions may include something like:

  1. How soon are you hoping to have these problems solved?
  2. How have these problems affected your business?
  3. How have these prblems affected you personally?
  4. If these problems are not solved in the immediate future, how could it negatively impact your business?

At this point, you should have caused the prospect’s feeling of urgency to build up enough and have identified the problems that are worth solving. It’s time for the prospect to start thinking about the benefits of retaining you.

Here is where you paint some ideas in their head so they can begin to paint a picture of what positive outcomes could occur if there were a solution to the problems that they have identified. Here is where they begin the emotional journey as you start asking Benefit questions.

Benefit questions can go like this:

  1. If I could solve your problem today, how much additional revenue do you stand to gain, or how much will you save in costs and resources?
  2. How much closer would it bring you to hitting your goals?
  3. What would it mean for your business?
  4. How could this positively impact your life outside of work?

By now you have probably stirred up some positive emotions around finding an immediate solution to their biggest problems. Remember, this is key. Buying decisions are made on emotions more than on anything else.

uying decisions are made on emotions more than on anything else. Click To Tweet

Now you are ready to propose solutions for your prospect, and help them make a buying decision that is a good choice for them. You can help them make a decision by providing them with specific examples of that you can do for them.

But now is not the time. It is time to walk away.

Yes, that it what I said. Now is not the time to be presenting your solution to their problems. It is time for you to walk away.

Instead of going into your close and talking to the prospect about your services and your solution to their problem, you need to step back and take some time to analyze their problem, define a solution that you can provide and turn that solution into a unique and hard to duplicate value proposition. You want to come back later and present your solution. That is when you ask your Benefit questions.

Right now, all you do is look at the prospect and say something like:

I think I have a good idea of how my services can handle this problem, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to go back to the office and do some more analysis and put together a soltuion that is specifically designed for your unique situation. Can we meet again on (first option) or (second option)?

Set a time to get back together, say goodbye and leave.

Your prospect will be pleasantly surprised, and should by now be thinking “Hey, these folks are actually interested in solving my problems, not just signing me up.”

Next week I’ll talk a bit about how to do that.

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Best to you and yours,

kirks-sig

 

Kirk

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