How To Use What-if Planning To Retain Clients

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Strong objectives are good for you, but more importantly, they are good for your client. They provide clarity of purpose. They lay the foundations for the methodology required to achieve goals. They create a belief that targets can be achieved. And importantly, they imbue a willingness in the client to make a proper, value-based investment in your services and enter into a metaphorical partnership with you to realize the targeted outcomes.


Here is an example. Let’s imagine you ask your client what they would like their business to look like in three years’ time. You are likely to hear one or more of these outcomes as your response:

  • Increased profit.
  • Improved cash flow.
  • Increased business valuation.
  • Business no longer reliant on the owner.


There is really not much to get your teeth stuck into there. There is no ‘from where to where’ – hence no firm targets to shoot for. And there is no way of getting there. Where would you start in this scenario?

Compare the above with the following objectives: .

  • Increase profit by $200,000.
  • Improve client service so that retention rate increases from 85% to 90%.
  • Train sales team so that conversion rate from enquiry to new customer increases from 25% to 30%.
  • Develop additional products and services to entice customers to spend with the company one more time per year on average.
  • Improve pricing and up/cross selling to increase average transaction by 10% to $385.
  • Implement cost savings and efficiencies to increase gross profit margin to the industry benchmark of 62%.


Now, that gives you something to really get your teeth stuck into. What you effectively have here is a roadmap to success. There are six clear objectives which, with focus and discipline on each one, will deliver the desired outcome.

So can you help the client come up with such precise objectives? Simple. Utilize what-if planning in your sales process. Take a look at the figure below. All of the answers are there. And when you allow your client to discover the potential themselves, they will present themselves to you. Your job then becomes very simple; you simply need to summarize the ‘numbers meeting’ in terms of the client’s objectives. Given that they have selected the numbers, it is very difficult for them to argue with it.

Show your clients what’s possible for their businesses through what-if planning and analysis. You will not only strengthen client relationships but increase your sales margins in the process. Our Magnify membership program can provide you with the tools, strategies and how-to methodologies to do exactly this and so much more.


About the Author

Rob Nixon is the world’s foremost authority on how accounting firms can achieve peak performance. Since 1994, he has been running businesses that specialize in helping Accountants run better, more profitable businesses. His speaking work has taken him around the world where he has spoken to in excess of 170,000 Accountants. Currently, his landmark strategies and products are used by Accountants in over 30 countries.

On average, clients increase profit by 75.5%, enhance capacity by 30.6% and achieve sustainable revenue growth of 52.1% - in just 12 months.

Rob is the author of two best-selling books “Accounting Practices Don’t Add Up – why they don’t and what to do about it” – and “Remaining Relevant – the future of the accounting profession”. Both have received rave reviews from Accountants and industry professionals from around the world.

Rob’s latest book “The Perfect Firm: Your Playbook for Building a Perfect Accounting Business” aims to help Accountants build their perfect accounting firm.

In 2005, he created the revolutionary coaching model called coachingclub. The coachingclub model enabled firms to be accountable, to consistently learn and to share ideas amongst their peers. So far, over 800 accounting firms have graduated from his coachingclub program. The vast majority of firms have doubled or tripled profits because of the program.

Rob is a keen golfer (single figures) and adventurer (he is ticket holder 293 on Virgin Galactic to go into space). He lives in sunny Brisbane, Australia with his lovely wife Natalie and three children.

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