The period leading up to and following the end of the financial year is probably the best time to engage business clients in rich conversations about their financial objectives, needs and challenges.
Of course, tax planning is a great way to start, but the opportunities to really engage with business clients go well beyond discussions about tax and accounting.
We’re all aware of these opportunities, so what’s preventing us from taking advantage of them?
Some of the key issues include:
- Lack of time, too busy just getting tax compliance out of the way
- Not sure if clients have the time or are even interested in broader discussions
- Unsure how to convert client needs into additional services and fees
- No formal processes in place to set up and manage meetings, so it just doesn’t happen
What can you do to get more value out of EOFY client meetings?
Use this simple 7 steps process to ensure that you don’t let this ‘once a year’ opportunity pass you by.
Step 1 – Identify the business clients you want to meet
The clients you target are not only the ones who clearly need tax planning. They should also include clients who could simply benefit from an annual review including a discussion about their priorities in the year ahead.
How many clients can you meet over a 2 month period? If you’re effectively delegating compliance work, you should be able to meet with at least 2 clients a week – that’s around 20 business clients. You should create a specific list of target clients and then work with administrative support to ensure that all these clients are contacted, well in advance, for a review meeting.
Step 2 – Tell these clients you will be meeting with them
It’s critically important that your targeted clients know well in advance when you will be meeting with them and what the agenda will be.
Of course, some of these clients will be unsure of the value of this meeting. How do you tell clients who don’t know the value that comes with EOFY meetings that there’s value in them giving their time up to meet with you. If necessary, tell them that you won’t charge for the meeting. Tell them that you do this with all important clients. Let them know that it’s important to them that you have a clear understanding of their needs and goals in the year ahead.
Step 3 – Set a clear agenda for each client meeting
Even after telling your clients what the meeting is all about, don’t assume that they will remember. Send them an agenda, well in advance. Considering including in the agenda the questions that you want to ask them.
For example, you might let them know that you will be asking them questions about:
- The past year – what went well, what could be improved
- The year ahead – personal and business goals, challenges and potential solutions
- What we can be doing to help
Step 4 – Ensure that you are prepared with all the information you need
Of course, most of your business clients are expecting a discussion on financial matters at the meeting. So you need to provide this, but it should not be the sole focus.
Use the financials to identify a few key issues and trends and then ask your clients what they think. Use open ended questions to find out more about their needs and issues. In fact, you’ll often see that clients will learn as much from this conversation as you will.
Sep 5 – At the meeting, find out what’s important for the client in the year ahead
The real purpose of the meeting is to engage your client in a discussion about what’s important to them. So you need to have your list of open ended questions ready to ask. Questions like:
- Where do you see your business heading in the next year?
- What do you need to do to achieve your goals?
- What obstacles do you think will get in your way?
Remember, you’ve already flagged in the agenda that you’ll be asking these questions, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Hopefully, your client will be prepared.
Step 6 – Follow up the meeting with a list of key points and potential actions
No meeting is complete without a list of follow-up actions.
Document any relevant issues and actions, whether they involve you or not. Your client will see that you’re engaged with what’s important to them. Chances are they will even ask you ‘what can you do to help me?’
Step 7 – Where relevant, ask for a follow-up meeting to discuss issues and solutions in more detail
It’s possible, even probable, that the first EOFY meeting you have with a client will focus mainly on the financials, with perhaps a brief discussion at the end of the meeting about the future. If this happens, then suggest a follow-up meeting to focus solely on business development. Use the meeting as a bridge to greater discussions.
It’s very likely that some clear opportunities to add value will come out of these client meetings. Make sure that you document these opportunities, even if there’s no clear call to action in the short term. Use future conversations with clients to revisit these meetings, to see how they’re going and to remind them that you’re there to help as their trusted adviser.
You can maximise your client service opportunity with EOFY tax planning – join our upcoming 2 part online session to learn more!
Director, Training Beyond Accounting and Business Aptitude