I recently had the pleasure of being invited and flown out to the incredible QB Connect event in San Jose by Intuit.
It was great to catch up with so many of the UK contingent whilst there but more importantly, it was exciting to find out about some of the game-changing advancements being made technologically in the industry.
Now aside from all of the latest tech changes (if you’re interested in those then check out this great summary by Trent McLaren here) there was one thing that stood out in particular – a theme I saw emerging in many of the sessions and talks.
It was all to do with what questions we, as accountants, ask our clients.
In a fantastic breakout session with Geni Whitehouse on ‘Sharpening Your Consulting Skills’, she asked a group of roughly 400 accountants in the audience how many of them ask their clients what they want to achieve in their lives as a standard question.
Guess how many hands went up?
In another excellent session entitled ‘The Business Growth Accountant’, Paul Shrimpling asked how many out of the 140 people in the audience habitually ask their clients if they want to grow their businesses.
Guess how many hands went up this time?
There is a theme emerging here…
Could you be holding your clients back by not asking them the right kind of questions about their growth plans?
Undoubtedly, we all have clients that want us to help them grow their businesses, not just keep them compliant.
There are clients that want to be growing, developing, moving forward and improving all the time.
But in order to do this we need to be asking them questions about what they want in both their business and their personal life.
We need them to think about and understand what it is they want from their business and for them to communicate this to us so that we can help them move achieve these goals.
So, what are some of the questions you should be asking of your clients?
The questions can be a mix of both personal and business. Here are some suggestions:
- What is your big dream in life?
- Where do you want to be in 10 years from now?
- What do you want your business to look like in 10 years?
- How many hours a week do you want to be working in 10 years’ time?
- How many staff do you want working in your business?
- What sort of legacy do you want to leave behind?
- How do you want to be remembered in business and in life?
- How much is enough?
The list is endless. There are so many things we could and should be asking in order to understand what our clients want from their lives and their business.
So, how do you go about asking these questions and finding out the answers?
For me, this conversation could be as simple as saying to a new client…]
“I fully appreciate where you are at right now. Let’s press pause. Put this aside for a moment and let’s start in the future. Imagine it’s 10 years from now…tell me about that world…”.
Then, you keep quiet. Let them talk. Hear what they have to say about what they desire from their life and what type of business they need in order to support that lifestyle.
By asking the right questions of your clients you put yourself in a position where you can truly help them with what they need in order to succeed.
Sure, there are always going to be some clients who don’t want these things. There’ll be some clients who just want to remain compliant and do the bare minimum to keep their business going. If they do, that’s completely fine and if you choose to work with these clients then that’s a decision you make.
But, for the dreamers, the fire starters and those who desire more from their lives and their businesses, it’s your duty as their accountant to ask them the right questions. The probing questions that will get them thinking about everything they want from life.
Asking these questions will allow you to build incredibly deep relationships with your clients. This in turn will help you guarantee their retention and maximise your revenue as a direct result.
Are you asking your clients what their answers to these questions are? If not, do you plan to begin asking your clients these questions so you can begin supporting them in creating the lives and businesses they desire?