Once you have clients on cloud accounting you have an amazing opportunity to add value to the numbers. On the old system (hard drive based systems) you might not get the clients financial data until 6, 12 or 18 months after the fact. It’s very hard to offer real value when the data is so old.

With cloud accounting that all changes. You can have access to the data whenever you want. That means if you have the data then you can offer (real time) management accounting, budgeting, cash flow management and profit improvement help. The services are not going to sell themselves however. You need to approach the client, highlight the opportunity and show the client how you can help.

I have a belief system that every client in an Accounting firm should be buying every service they need that helps them achieve their goals. Anything less is doing your clients a gross dis-service.

To find out what their goals are you need to meet with them. For the meeting to be a success you should not ‘wing it’ but follow a structured approach. If you follow my proven 12 step meeting approach (for any value added service for any client) you will make a lot of new value added sales:

Step 1. Make sure all of the decision makers are at the meeting. Absolutely crucial that this happens. If you are making recommendations then all the decision makers need to be in attendance.

Step 2. Set the scene why you are having the meeting. Your client is wondering why they are there. You need to tell the client that there is nothing to worry about and you are here to help.

Step 3. Frame the meeting purpose and time frame of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to dig deeper into the current situation and offer some solutions on how you can help improve profit, cashflow, revenue & tax minimization. You need to tell the client how long the meeting will last and make sure they are good for that timeframe.

Step 4. Understand the ‘now’ by asking a series of background related questions. Have their data on the screen (bigger screen the better) in our PANalytics product (which consolidates data from cloud products) showing the business performance review. Dig deep with probing questions to understand the current reality.

Step 5. Understand what the clients’ goals and objectives are. You need to transition from the past to the future by asking what they want to achieve in the next 3-5 years. Emphasize with them and reassure them that you can help them achieve the objectives. Write down all the objectives.

Step 6. Ask how they would know if they have achieved their objectives. Again another transition from the future back to how they would know if you have helped them. You’re looking for tangible measures of progress.

Step 7. Ask what it would mean to them if we helped them achieve their objectives. You’re looking for feelings so the project plan becomes emotional above logical.

Step 8. Ask what their current plans are to achieve their objectives. Some clients may have a great plan that may just work. You need to find out if they do. Most will not have a plan of any sort. You need to reiterate that you can help them (you may need to build the plane as you fly it in some cases) and you’re excited by the potential in their business.

Step 9. Ask what the consequences are of not doing something different. If they don’t have a plan you need to ask them the consequences of not doing something different. Let them talk.

Step 10. Ask timing related questions. You’ll need to ask them if this is a sooner rather than later project and what else they have going on that may prevent them from getting started right away. Let them know that you’re going to look at a suitable start date in your workflow system.

Step 11. Tell the client the next steps. It is crazy to offer a price and proposed implementation plan on the spot. Tell the client you’re going to write an implementation plan and send it to them. In it will be some options the client can take. Each option will have a fixed fee and each option will help them achieve their objectives.

Step 12. Book the next steps. Tell the client you will send the implementation plan on X date and you’ll need to meet again to answer questions and work out which option is best for the client to take. Set the follow up meeting date.

The follow up meeting is all about re-aligning your client with their objectives and asking which option do they think is the best one now to help them achieve their objectives.

The 12 step meeting process is a small but important part of my new full day seminar ‘Capitalising on the Cloud’. I am visiting 14 locations throughout Australasia starting next week on March 14 in Newcastle and then around Australia and New Zealand ending on April 16. For details and booking information go to www.cloudseminar.com.au

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