Figuring out how to get more value out of client conversations can be tricky. In this article and accompanying video series, Raoul Monks from Flume Training outlines a number of ways accountants can improve communication and conversations to add more value to your relationship.
The video series by Sage Accountants' Division, is split into four parts:
- What can you hope to gain from developing your communication skills
- How should you prepare for your next client meetings?
- What are the three most important things you can do to make your client conversations more effective?
- What are the more advanced methods accountants can use to improve client conversations?
According to Monks, founder of sales development company Flume Training, good communication skills are more important today than ever.
"Clients have changed, access to information has changed and what they expect from accountants and business is changing. The relationship you can have with them is more complex than it has ever been before and without adapting your approach you’re losing out on an opportunity," he said.
During the series, Monks focuses on why communication is important and what value improving skills in this area will bring to both accountants and clients.
One way of instantly connecting with the client, or prospect involved in the conversation, he explains, is helping them understand who you are as a firm and why you do what you do.
And in turn, determining why they are in business - i.e. their cause or belief - and finding a common value will instantly start you off on the same path, he said.
On how accountants should prepare for the next meeting, having made the initial steps, Monks advised to know how to run the conversation. Knowing who you are and what you offer should set you up to do this easily.
The videos then progress into the finer points of improving client conversations. Monks further tips include:
- Introduction and setting the meeting up is very important - i.e. outline what your role is, why you're there and what they should seeing you as. Share your 'why'
- Let them know you really want to understand their business and explore things with them
- Define the outcome - let the other party know what they will get out of it
- Focus on their objectives: I.e. what results are important for them and what's stopping them from getting there
"The main thing you really need to do is understand you are there to solve problems and easiest thing you can do is brainstorm what challenges you know you can overcome and bring those out in conversation," he advised.
Another tip was to share your experiences and what you've learned from working with other clients, rather than to go in armed with a lot of questions.
"The use of stories is so powerful - they are 22 times more memorable than facts. They stick with people and it really makes them think differently," Monks said.
As accountants, chances are you know the answers to a client's solution. But the trainer advises letting them tell you what they need and listening to what they're saying 100%, as with that information practitioners can help their clients in a much better way.
Once you have discovered the challenges the client or prospect is facing, then you can talk about how you can help.
"You will have a lot of ways you can help. People memorise things in terms of small numbers and if you give lots of information about your services or firm at this point it can overwhelm them. Condense it down to the main ways in which you can move a company forward," he said.
The videos are accompanied by supporting material which viewers can download and put the tips Monks give to use. To view the full series of advice Monks offers, visit our YouTube page or click on the links above.