When meeting with potential clients, there are some best practices, structures and processes that you need to follow. I’m going to walk you through 5 of those critical steps…
The purpose of the initial meeting with a client is to understand whether or not you are a good fit for each other. A lot of that information you will uncover during the meeting with your fact-finding process.
But before the meeting you should visit their website, but also their social channels to find out something a little more personal about them, perhaps something you have in common. This could be a great starting point to create some rapport in the meeting.
Do a Google search on them and their business. It may be they’ve been in a news article because they have been avoiding taxes. It would be useful to know that before you commit your valuable time to them.
Just do 10-15 minutes of research and make some notes of potential questions or ice-breakers you can use in the meeting.
Back when I owned my own accounting practice I made many mistakes, one of which was trying to sign people up in a hurry.
I desperately wanted clients. I wanted to meet, tell them all the great things I could do and sign them up quickly.
I now know that you can’t rush this process.
It’s a big decision hiring an accounting professional – it’s a relationship. You will hopefully be working together for many years to come. It’s not a decision you should rush into.
I recommend that you structure all of your meetings with new clients with a 2-meeting approach.
The focus of the first meeting is to get to know the client and make sure you are the right fit for each other.
Meeting 1 is not the time to get into details, present your solutions or discuss prices.
You need to have a standard process for managing the client’s expectations around that first meeting. It may be that you have a standard email that you send out that informs them of what to expect in the meeting.
In that email you might confirm the date and time, establish the location (which might be online), and explain that the purpose of the meeting is to see if you are a good fit for each other.
Tell them how long the meeting will last – it should be around 30-45 minutes. It doesn’t need to be too long because it’s only the first part of your 2-meeting approach.
When the client then comes to that meeting, they should do most of the talking whilst you listen.
You want to learn about them. I call this process the fact find. It’s you asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves and their business.
You should prepare these questions beforehand. (You can make this part of your research from step 1).
The things you want to know about your client is their background, their vision, and their challenges.
You want to know why they started in business, where their business is currently at, what their goals are for the future and what things are stopping them from getting there.
When you ask the client about the future, they see for themselves it does 2 things…
The better you understand what the client values, the better you will be at helping them achieve those goals. Knowing what they value will also help you when it comes to communicating the value of your solution and creating a price that reflects that value.
There are 4 types of questions you need to ask as part of the fact find process:
Why did you get into business? What drives you? What to do you want to achieve in your business?
What challenges are you currently facing? What is stopping you from achieving your goals? What keeps you awake at night?
What is this problem doing to your business? How is it affecting your profits? How is it affecting you and your team?
If we could solve this problem, what would that mean for you?
The questioning process is a difficult skill to master, but you now have the structure to work into your initial meeting with new clients.
You must not finish this meeting until you have agreed the date and time of the next meeting.
Again, you need to manage the client’s expectations for the second meeting.
This could be another email letting them know the date, time, location and the agenda. You should also get them excited for the meeting and looking forward to it by telling them about some of the thinking you have already done around creating solutions for them.
In the meeting you will explore those options and help them to choose the option that is genuinely the best for them.
Once they have chosen the most suitable option, you will then work with them to agree a price.
In that email, you should also manage the client’s expectations for how long that meeting will last. I recommend the second meeting is a longer meeting – you’ll be getting into the detail in this meeting, building up the value of what you do, presenting solutions and agreeing on a price.
This meeting could be around 60-90 minutes or longer if you think you will need it.
There are 3 parts to this meeting:
Remind them of the pain they are currently experiencing.
Explain how you can help them get to where they want to go. Use your pricing brochure and go over your range of packages. Build up the value of your packages and help them to pick the one that is best for them. Take them to the point where they want to buy.
Price is the last thing you talk about. You only talk about price when the client is ready to buy. Do not leave the meeting without agreeing on the price – if you send your price in a proposal through the post after the meeting you have lost control of the pricing process. The client will see it as expensive and you have no opportunity to work with them to change it to a more suitable price and package.
You may now be thinking: ‘but how do I come up with the price in front of the client in the meeting?’
You need to have a system.
When you have a stable system, you can generate a profitable price with confidence and work with the client to adjust it knowing that you are giving them the best value and you are getting a great price.
A great system is Effective Pricing – it’s designed to help accountants and bookkeepers’ price their services with confidence in front of their clients.
It’s a digital approach to pricing, it’s transparent and the client can see exactly how the price builds up. It builds in price psychology to make your price feel smaller. It’s designed to get you higher conversions and higher prices.
I hope you have found this valuable. If you would like to learn more about value pricing, winning new clients and running a more efficient and systematic business, I run a free live training session once every month with a different topic chosen by you. You can attend live and ask me questions which I will answer in session. Click here to register and I will send you an invitation to the next session.
And if you would like to join a community of like-minded accounting professionals learning to price more effectively and confidently, you can join my Facebook Support Group here.
Wishing you every success on your pricing journey.
Chartered Accountant, Public Speaker and Author of Amazon No.1 Best Seller, “Effective Pricing for Accountants”
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