Meeting a potential client

70 mins

For accountants who want to better understand the business needs of prospective clients.

Jonathan Stobart

Jonathan Stobart

Head of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, AccountancyManager

Introductions (10 min)

Meeting a new accountant can be intimidating, so break the ice with some light introductions. You’re representing the firm and the client will associate the firm with yourself, so it’s important to outline who you are in equal measure to providing a background on the firm.

At this time, start to build a rapport with the prospect and try and find shared personal interests.

Invite the client to tell their story; they likely have a reason why they have come to see you, but invite them first to explain why they set up the business and ask them how the business is performing and what business goals are.

Critically, ask them about their personal aspirations. As their potential adviser, you’ll be in the best position to ensure the personal and business goals are working cohesively.

What brings you here? (10 min)

This is the section where we discuss the particular issue that made them contact you. For example, they could have just set up a new business or their current accountant has made a mistake.

During this section, remember two things:

  1. There are two sides to every story. Maybe their current accountant made a genuine mistake, but it’s important to keep the prospect talking as they may give you some valuable insight into what they are like as a client.
  2. Never talk down about the competition. The client will already have negative feelings towards someone they are looking to leave, so allowing the conversation to go in a direction will only leave the prospect with further negative feelings about their current adviser rather than positive feelings about you.

What services do you need? (20 min)

By this point, you would have identified the primary service they require, but getting them to go through all other services they currently receive is pertinent. For instance, they may also outsource their payroll services but have not mentioned it in the meeting thus far.

This section is detail orientated and it’s important to understand every aspect that will affect your work and delivery of services. They include bookkeeping software, the number of invoices in a month, turnover of the business, payroll frequency, etc.

How can we help you? (20 min)

Ok, here it is, the sales pitch. Start slow; explain what services you think they need and how you would deliver them. It’s essential to outline your firm and manage expectations about contact – should they always contact you first or will there be other team members within the firm they should contact about particular areas?

Explain your recommended solution and the role technology will play in service delivery. Explaining exactly how you’ll work with the client at this stage outlines your position. If you only work with one particular bookkeeping platform for instance, this is where you’ll explain why and what the benefit is for them.

Explain how and when you’ll be in contact for each service they’ll receive

Investment in your services (10 min)

For the client, they’ll also want to know what fees you will be charging. If you typically provide quotes during these meetings – feel free to do so. However, it is also standard practice to conclude the meeting and to follow up with a proposal. When you have a quote prepared, it would be recommended that you book another appointment with the prospect to work through the proposal and discuss the various services and factors that influence the quoted fee.

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