Are You Ready to be a Trusted Advisor to Your Clients?
We all know that happy clients are loyal clients. As a result, more and more accounting professionals are modifying the way they do business. They now offer services that touch their clients more often. This strategy positions you as a trusted advisor, expanding beyond the traditional services that firms offer.
Your clients are the reason you’re in business. And, satisfied clients become raving fans. They’ll freely spread the word about your business to their connections. If that interests you, don’t leave this to chance. Be proactive.
Set aside time to develop a client experience strategy. Ask yourself how client meetings, paired with your services, would fit into your business model. If you’re seeking loyal clients who value what you offer, then position yourself as a trusted advisor.
Consider professional consultants that you’ve sought out for their knowledge and expertise. Well, you can offer that, too! Your insights, experiences, resources, and connections, known as intellectual capital, are more valuable than you may realize.
Instead of minimizing what’s in your brain, we want to highlight it. Your ideal clients actually appreciate your input and guidance. The tactical work is a service you offer, but your intellectual capital is why clients stay with you.
Shifting from a traditional service-based firm to an advisory position is a process. Working closely with accounting professionals on this, I help develop packages that touch clients more often. Since client needs vary over time, this strategy offers higher value services.
Case Study of Strategic Change
Recently while guiding an accounting professional, Jamie, on how to shift from hourly billing to value-based pricing, we discussed ways her firm could add value. Although the base of her work concerns taxes, we transitioned her business focus from compliance to trusted advisor.
First, we identified her core values and unique talents. Then, we integrated them into her client experience strategy.
Jamie’s training in finance and operations had been downplayed. It was time to fix that. Her background as a finance manager for a Fortune 100 company makes her uniquely qualified to advise her clients on managing their money.
Jamie modestly admits this is something she typically gives away for free. That’s because she genuinely enjoys advising her clients.
Wonder how to charge for something that is currently freely given? That’s exactly why listing core values is the first step.
Jamie said, “There’s no use sending my clients reports, if they don’t know what they mean. Why do the work if that simply ends up getting deleted or never opened?”
Predicting growth, foreseeing risks and estimating earnings excites her clients. So, Jaime teaches them how to extract that information from the reports. During their advisory meetings, they’re now asking, “How do we improve?”
It’s easier to prevent a problem than try to fix it after the fact. Her risk-adverse clients need more handholding. Reviewing the numbers beforehand eases their concerns and prevents costly mistakes.
Trust and Honesty
Trust needs to be earned. Likewise, it can be lost very, very quickly.
Why beat around the bush when you can be direct? Nothing builds trust more than honest, direct communication. Her clients feel understood, knowing Jamie’s on their team.
Of course, each business possesses weak spots and bottlenecks. Those areas either need to be fixed or ditched. Sketching out the strategic plan on a whiteboard lets her clients visualize all the steps.
Some clients get intimidated by the numbers and reports. To avoid any glazed eyes during advisory meetings, she drills down the information. This makes it digestible, instead of overwhelming.
How you communicate matters as much, if not more, than what you say. When discussing hard business decisions, Jamie believes that sugar coating, or talking around difficult subjects, leaves clients confused.
Give your clients the benefit of the doubt. Be open and frank. You’re the expert with their numbers. Don’t wait for permission. Proactively share your insights with them.
Success is messy. Like all business owners, your clients experience ups and downs. She loves to celebrate their joys along with them. During tough times, however, Jamie prefers empathy to criticism.
She does not minimize their experience by telling them to “get over it.” With compassion, she acknowledges their perception. However, solely focusing on the problem isn’t her style.
Nothing is all black or white. A strategic review about what led to their current difficulties identifies the pros and the cons. It’s an advanced strategy that athletes practice to learn from their mistakes.
The insights gained from this discussion serve two purposes. First, it reduces the chances of that problem reoccurring. And, second, the review influences her client’s next best move. Sometimes, the best opportunities occur because of a failure.
Time is valuable. Client consultations, whether in-person or virtual, deserve her full attention. All distractions are turned off or silenced. This includes emails, phone, background music and more.
Her body language, tone of voice, eye contact and movement shows that she’s listening intently.
Jamie’s dedicated to setting her clients up for success. Tax compliance is something Jamie does for her clients. Her expertise and insights, however, add value.
For years, she gave this information away for free. By bringing it front and center, she’s discovered renewed enthusiasm. Meeting with her clients more often has revitalized her business. Partnering with them toward their success adds meaning to her work.
The Trusted Advisor Edge
The transition from compliance to trusted advisor is a paradigm shift. This highlights what you know, rather than what you do.
First, answer these questions: What’s your expertise? How does that benefit your ideal client? What is your client experience like?
Then, create packages that include advisory meetings. Next, shift from hourly billing to value-based pricing.
Finally, get ready to attract clients who appreciate your insight.
A move like this will challenge your current beliefs and values. Confidence is often the biggest roadblock. Is your mindset onboard? The advantages of adding a client experience strategy and becoming a trusted advisor extends beyond the obvious. This move stretches you personally and professionally. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!