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Getting your first advisory client!

27 Nov, 2018 by David Seamans

Congratulations on your decision to offer proactive advice to your clients on how to grow their business.

This is quite the transition from the traditional role of bookkeeper or accountant. Rest assured, Elements and your experience and training make the transition all that much easier.

And we will show you how to make it even easier.

There are two sources of clients - existing clients and prospects. Let’s start with the low hanging fruit - existing clients. And let’s start with a particularly unique “existing client” - yourself. Congratulations - you have your first client already.

There is no one who understands the services you are offering or the clients you like to work with any greater clarity than yourself. You are the perfect candidate.

Split yourself into two people - the “Bookkeeper / Accountant becoming the Trusted Advisor” and the “Client”.

The Steps are:

  • Connect your online accounting package to

  • Take a look at elements:growth.

    • Understand each of the the “Handles” of Active Clients, Average Sales Value and Frequency of Sales
    • How do the Handles relate to business “income” or “revenue” or “turnover” (whatever you call it). Run a profit and loss to verify (and if the product of the Active Clients, Average sales value and Frequency of Sales does not agree with Revenue, how can you explain that? How can you fix the discrepancy?)
    • Look at the trends over time. This is your business and you always had a feeling some of these trends were happening but you could never quite quantify them.
    • When your revenue went up, which of the Handles was contributing most to it?
    • When your revenue went up, there was the Handle that was contributing the most. But what about the other Handles? For example, you may have done some marketing to get more “Active Clients” but what happened to (eg) your “Average Sales Value”?
    • What does this mean? You are getting more Active Clients but they are spending less with you so are these the type of clients you want? Are you offering the services they will pay more for?
  • Take a look at elements:focus.

    • Understand Life Time Value the way uses the term. It is not “textbook” but it is meaningful for
    • Prove to yourself that approximately 80% of your income comes from 20% of your clients. Convince yourself that this has consistently occured during the life of your business (or at least this datafile, if you do not have all the informattion going back to when you started.)
    • What are “A” clients? What are “B” clients? What are “C” clients?
    • Who were your A clients two years ago? Who are they now? Why the change?
    • You know your “C” clients? How much is it costing you to maintain these clients compared to the income they generate?
    • Why are the A clients “A”? What traits are common amongst these clients? Would you recognise one if you saw them walking down the street?

You now have a client - you - that is prospering by your knowledge.

You now see it in your own business. You have your own story to tell. Start the cerebral juices going.

That is critically important as your “arms length” clients will be able to identify with you and go on the journey you have travelled.

You will, of course, be there to guide them.

You now understand more than what 80% of your clients understand about business. That is not being funny or cruel - just honest: You can explain what the factors that constitute revenue are. These Handles give the business owner something tangible to work with.

This is what will now differentiate you from all the other accountants and bookkeepers out there.

It is easy to go out now and get your “second” client.

We all have a favorite client or two. You want to position yourself as a “trusted advisor”.

You want to “draw a line in the sand’ where you ceased being the bookkeeper or accountant who was the bearer of “bad news”. So make a specific point in time for the transition.

  • Phone or email the favored client and invite them to have coffee with you. Invite them to “understand the most important part of their business”.

  • Before the meeting connect their datafile to on your tablet or notebook computer.

  • Start the meeting by telling them that you want to become a "trusted advisor" to them; to be far more than a "clerk", a "bookkeeper, an "accountant".

  • Open

    • Look at their elements:growth.
    • Highlight the trends in revenue and ask them to remember what caused the “peaks and troughs”. Relate these to movements in the underlying Handles.
  • Next look at elements:focus.

    • Explain how 80% of their income comes from 2o% of their clients; how 20% of income comes from 80% of clients.
    • Show how the composition of the 20% has changed over time. Time about the common traits of the the best clients.
  • Trust me, they will be stunned when you show them this. Weren't you?

  • Finally ask your prospect if this is information that they would find important and would like to receive on a regular basis.

    • You have shown the value.
    • If they say “yes”, outline the monetary commitment - you are worth it.
    • If they say “no”, just ask why. And then move on. They are still your bookkeeping clients for now. Things may change in the future. -__ For you and for them.__

But keep going. Find a client who values this information and wants to work with you in your new role. You owe these clients the effort and knowledge to help them receive a fair return from their business.

You just have to “Start the conversation”.

David Seamans

Co-Founder at Elements, Retired CPA and Company Coach with 35 years of experience building better businesses.