It can be easy to fixate on the technical aspects of accounting. But that’s only fifty percent of the job.
Working on improving client relationships can get overlooked but it’s precisely this process that can account for the greatest growth.
Put simply; happy clients spend more and refer others.
Why should you care about the quality of your client meetings?
When it comes to building trust and rapport with clients, there is no more conspicuous place for this to happen than during meetings. They’re a time when client relationships are either made or broken.
Whether you’re hosting a discovery call, an onboarding call or a business advisory session, every single meeting is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your value. And delivering greater value unlocks greater fees.
If you’re struggling to get a client to join you on a video call, it could be a sign that they’re simply not getting enough value from your meetings with them. Worse, they could be at risk of switching to another firm.
A process for smarter client meetings
So how do you host meetings that your clients actually value? It all starts with defining a process; a replicable system that you — and your teammates — can use to make sure every meeting is designed for excellence.
Prepare, meet, act is a simple framework that ensures the quality of your clients meetings and drives progress.
Here are 5 simple steps you can take today to transform your meetings with clients.
Steps to take before your meeting.
1. Give your meeting a name
What’s the main purpose of your meeting?
If you’re struggling to capture this in less than a few words then it might mean that you’re lacking focus.
Client meetings are most effective when they’re succinct and precise. Giving your meeting a clear name is a good way to hone in on the value you intend to provide; eg: ‘Cash flow forecasting’, ‘Software onboarding’, ‘Business advisory’.
2. Share an agenda
To make sure you stay focussed on delivering value, every single meeting you host should have some form of agenda. To borrow an awkward catchphrase; “No agenda, no attenda!”.
Don’t keep your agenda to yourself. You should try to share it with your client a day or so in advance. This will give them enough time to suggest any additional talking points they may have. That’s right; a meeting agenda is a collaborative document.
In addition to sharing your meeting agenda, you should also remind your client of any outstanding actions they might have and share any resources that they should examine before the meeting. This is also known as ‘pre-meeting work’.
Things to remember during your meeting.
3. Ask questions
Meetings are two-way conversations. If you’re intending to just talk at your client, then a meeting isn’t the medium for it.
The whole purpose of a meeting is to provide a space for synergic discourse. If you just want to deliver a simple status update, then consider an asynchronous form of communication.
The key to ensuring that meetings are two-sided is of course to ask questions. Use meetings to elicit valuable information and gain greater understanding of your client’s goals and aspirations.
4. Assign actions
Actions generate momentum and enable progress. There should always be ‘next steps’ to carry out between meetings. It’s your responsibility to make sure these are clearly defined, for both you and your client.
Setting SMART meeting actions ensure your client relationships don’t end up languishing in a state of stasis.
Actions are best agreed and assigned during your meeting — don’t leave it for an email chain afterwards. It can be helpful to add this as your final agenda item as a reminder.
The work’s not done when the meeting is over!
5. Send a summary
It’s crucial that you provide a proper debrief once the meeting is done. You can send this as an email, or automate the process using your meeting platform.
Here’s a good rule of thumb about what to include in your summary:
Personal message thanking them for their time.
Concise (but comprehensive) meeting summary of everything that was discussed noting any decisions that were made.
List of actions that have been agreed.
Reminder of the date/time of your next meeting (the follow-up meeting). It’s ideal if this is agreed during the meeting (aka BaMFaM or Book a Meeting From a Meeting). But if that wasn’t possible, include a Calendly or HubSpot meeting link in your follow-up email so that your client can book directly with you.
Running truly valuable client meetings needn’t be difficult or complicated. It just requires a rock-solid process to follow. Prepare, meet and act your way towards happier clients who spend more and fuss less today.
by Rory Macrae
Head of Design & Marketing
Rory heads up everything to do with the Connect4 brand — from content marketing to product design. He spends most of his time trying to think up ways to spread the word about smarter client meetings. Say hi on LinkedIn.
Connect4 is a meeting platform built specifically for accountants and their clients. It transforms discovery meetings, onboarding sessions and business advisory meetings by providing everything you need to prepare, meet and act, all in one place. Sharing agendas, setting actions and sending meeting summaries is quick, and easy enough for the whole team to do (no excuses!).