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3 ways to use smart client management for proactive advisory services

Practice Management Client Management

What does it take to build the firm you’ve always wanted?

Does it mean taking on any client who walks through the door? Working long hours during tax season and taking zero vacations? Hustling all day, every day, to turn a small profit?

I can confidently tell you that’s not the way to build the firm you’ve always wanted. While it may keep your doors open, it doesn’t provide you or your staff with the work-life balance they crave. It also does not truly serve your clients.

Building the firm you’ve always wanted comes down to smarter client management. And with the tools and applications available today, you have endless opportunities to leverage the data and insights needed to manage your firm, and easily create better advisory services for your clients.

Smarter client management may be one of the most important roles inside your firm. Running your firm isn’t just about getting a new client into your system and moving on to the next one. Instead, it starts with onboarding clients and identifying how you can serve them in the best way. It’s being proactive every day in managing them in the smartest way possible by gleaning insights to better understand their needs.

As a tax and accounting firm, you have an opportunity to create an incredible client experience—an individual human experience that flows through your two biggest assets: your staff and client base. And you need to be proactive in managing both. It requires a hands-on approach that allows you to really get to know your clients.

Smarter client management is making sure you have the right clients using the right technology, and charging them the right fees and providing the right services. It’s making sure you understand everything about them. It’s not a one and done thing—it’s an ongoing, daily process. I realize how hard this can be, which is why I have identified three ways for you to use smarter client management to build the firm you’ve always wanted.

1. Identify your ideal client

Building the firm of your dreams begins with identifying your ideal client. It’s knowing who you want to serve and why. This is where it all starts.

But how do you define your ideal client when your client list is a mile long? Start by sitting down with your staff and asking, “Who are our best clients, and why?” Your team’s responses will likely include clients who pay on time, take your firm’s advice, buy your services, and leverage your firm’s technologies.

Once you’ve outlined the list of qualities that define your ideal client, start going through your client list to determine which ones are good fits and which ones aren’t. Keep the ones that embody your definition of the ideal client and let go of the ones who don’t. Fortunately, in today’s market, firms can be selective with the clients they take on because there’s a greater demand for their services than there is a supply.

2. Sell from your sweet spot

Along with identifying your ideal client, you need to find your sweet spot. Think about what you want your clients to consume. Is it bookkeeping services, payroll services, and/or advisory services? Then, consider what fees your clients are willing to pay for these services.

Many firms aren’t comfortable with the idea of having to sell and market their services—it’s not really part of their DNA. But with smarter client management, you aren’t going out to find new business or new clients; you’re simply maximizing your current client base by knowing your ideal client and offering services from your sweet spot.

Identify all the ways you can serve your clients, and then leverage the data and insights you already have on your current clients to ensure you’re serving them completely and holistically.

It’s really about education. If you know what it is you want to sell and you can educate prospects on why this makes sense for them, then the sale comes … it just happens. It’s about bringing clarity. And the more you know about your clients, the more you can educate them on the services they need.

For example, consider a client that’s a partnership—that’s insight #1. You know they’re in a partnership. You know they don’t have a buy-sell agreement (insight #2), and you know their lack of a buy-sell agreement isn’t funded by life insurance (insight #3). These three pieces of information give you a lot of insight into this client—information that can be leveraged to educate the client. In this instance, there are several things that can go wrong and unravel if they don’t get things buttoned up, such as the partnership dissolving or a partner passing away. This is the type of data and insights you can use to educate the client on why your advisory services make sense.

If you can educate clients on why a specific service makes sense for them, you’ll close the sale. It’s selling, but it doesn’t feel like selling; it feels like helping. And the more you know about your clients and your firm’s sweet spot, the more you can maximize your advisory services.

3. Productize your advisory services

Many firms are under the impression that there’s an unlimited number of consultative services they can provide, but the reality is: It’s super finite.

You need to identify the things your firm is really good at, such as retirement services, payroll services, buy-sell agreements, or education planning, and then productize each and every one—whether it’s 10 products or 50. When it comes to productizing your services, there are two key components:

  1. Having clarity on the products you want to sell. Determine the products that fit in your sweet spot. Identify the products that you enjoy offering and that provide value to your clients.
  2. Gaining insights into your client base. Use the technology you already have to gain insights on your clients as friction-free as possible. Surface the details about what your clients need so you can provide the products that solve their problems.

Smarter client management means using the information you already have to provide the services you want to provide to the clients who need those services. It means streamlining your client list and product offerings, and it’s how you start building the firm you’ve always wanted.

It’s time to figure it out

To build the firm you’ve always wanted, identify your ideal clients, sell from your sweet spot, and productize your advisory services so you can be proactive in serving those clients. Use the insights you already have to develop and build relationships with your ideal clients, and continue to surface insights that let you better serve them.

This is all smart client management: the proactive, ongoing daily activity of managing that asset. That’s how you build the business you’ve always hoped for.

You have the chance to do that right now by taking advantage of what we’re calling the Great Reassessment. Now is the time to stop and reassess what you’re doing and start something new, so that you can build the firm of your dreams.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Firm of the Future.

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