4 steps to confidently engage clients in advisory
Advisory Vertical

Confidently engage clients in planning and advisory

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If you’re like most firm owners, you’ve never felt like a “natural salesperson.” You think you hate sales and lack confidence when it comes to having onboarding conversations with your clients, whether you’re bringing on a new client, or transitioning current clients to planning and advisory services.

Unfortunately, this lack of confidence often leads to undercharging for your work, working endless hours to prove your value in the hope that one day you’ll be able to charge premium fees, or avoiding the sales conversations altogether!

What I’ve found after working with hundreds of firm owners and helping them add more than $20 million in additional revenue to their firms in the last two years is this: Selling is a skill ANYONE can learn. And with that competence comes the confidence you need to offer more services to your clients at MUCH higher fees—the fees you know you deserve.

Sales also isn’t as complicated or intimidating as many firm owners believe. When you break it down, sales is just a step-by-step process of guiding your client to make a decision they will feel great about. It’s not about getting a new client or getting a “yes” when offering a new service; it’s about the decisions they make.

It’s about showing the client we understand their problem, and we have the best solution to fix that problem and get them to their goals. Here are the four steps to show you exactly how to do it:

Step 1: Be prepared

This is one of the most important steps when it comes to filling your firm with the right clients. You are solving a major problem for your clients and they are making a huge decision by working with you, so you should be very familiar with the client’s problems so you can have the best solution ready before you meet. Get access to their books, financials, tax returns, and numbers ahead of time, and spend at least one hour going over all the details. You’ll be able to easily anticipate what their potential questions and concerns may be. If they will not give you access to their books and information, maybe they aren’t the right client for you.

Step 2: Ask strategic questions

When communicating with the client, it’s important to ask strategic, open-ended questions. This not only helps you build authority and position yourself as the expert, but asking questions helps your clients see the reality of their situation and why they need your help. You will be able to get to their true pain and show that you really understand their problems. The best part is that strategic questions guide the client to a “yes” so that you won’t have to feel salesy or be pushy. I promise you, almost no one else is asking them questions like this.

Three examples of strategic questions include the following:

  1. What’s the biggest challenge in your business right now?
  2. What are the main challenges you are having with your cash flow? 
  3. If you could change one thing in your business, what would it be? 

Step 3: Share and present 

When sharing what you found with a client, it’s important to keep things simple and only present high-level findings. Focus on the results and paint a picture of the scenario they’re looking for. Relate your solution and recommendations back to their biggest pains and strongest desires. Skip the minutia and technical details—for example, what forms you’ll fill out—or any accounting technical jargon. As long as the client is confident you will get them results and can solve their problems, they don’t care about how you’ll get them there.

Step 4: Make the offer and collect payment 

If you’ve done the first three steps the right way, you’ve already led them to a “yes.” Now, just invite them to sign on with you on the spot and wait for their response. You can say, “I’m 100% confident I can help you solve X, Y, and Z by moving forward with this plan. Let’s get started and review the engagement letter and invoice together right now.” Be ready to answer any questions or objections they may have, but also be ready to collect payment via ACH or credit card. You’ll get paid before you even start the work!

Confidence is key

By following these steps, you’ll not only feel more confident in your sales conversations, but your clients will be 100% confident you are the expert they need. Stop being just a glorified tax professional, accountant, or even a bookkeeper, and make yourself into an indispensable part of their business strategy and financial future. Your clients will instantly understand the true value you provide, and treat you with the respect and value you deserve.

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