So how do you stop taking the wrong sort of client? It’s all in the language (both the words you say and the chatter going on in your head). Whenever you have an initial meeting with a prospective client, your mindset needs to be that you are evaluating this prospect to ensure that they are the right client for you. Stop feeling under pressure to sell yourself to the prospect. It should be exactly the other way around – what do they have to do to become a client of your firm?
The figure below outlines my recommended approach to qualify the prospect. Before you move to determine needs and certainly well before any discussion on price, it is important to establish that the prospective client understands your approach to working with your clients (as a business partner, focused on helping them achieve their objectives, for example). You should also ascertain how they came to hear of your firm and what they know of you. If they were referred by one of your best business improvement clients, you know right away that this is potentially a good fit.
You will know in the first 15 minutes or so if the client is a good fit for you as long as you follow this sort of approach and use language that places you in control. Sense check the personal chemistry.
Are you enjoying the discussion or is it hard work? And very importantly, watch out for red flags such as, ‘how much is this going to cost me?’ A client that comes to you on price will almost certainly leave you on price. You need to be firm in rebutting such a question by responding, ‘I don’t know yet. Let’s get focused on what you need.’
|How did the prospect hear of your firm?||What do they understand about how you do business?|
|Explain minimum level of service.||Pre-frame that you will be asking for referrals.|
|Do you like them and are they engaging? If so, proceed.||Is the chemistry not there and/or are they focusing on price? If so, stop now.|
Once again, come back to your ‘why’. My friend John runs a very successful Accounting business north of London in the UK. His client selection criteria are simple: He tells prospects that what he does is help his mates make millions. The simplicity of this approach is elegant. If there is no personal chemistry and/or the prospect is focused on price rather than value creation, it is not a good fit and John would be wasting both his and the prospect’s time by continuing to dance around trying to sell himself.
About the Author
Colin DunnDirector & Co-founder at PANALITIX
Colin is a Chartered Accountant who, having spent almost 10 years with one of the fastest growing and most innovative firms in the UK, has since invested over 20 years helping business owners to improve their businesses with a focus on attracting new clients, better managing existing clients, developing new products, building an engaged team and strengthening internal business processes.
Colin's primary focus at PANALITIX is on product development and business improvement content. He is the author of the bestselling book “Accountants: The Natural Trusted Advisors".