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‘Needs-to-solution’ piece gets advice breakthrough

Accountants must ensure they conduct ‘needs-to-solution’ client meetings, which incorporate full engagement tactics, as they successfully convert clients over to advice services.

Bstar chief executive Grant Bloxham said accountants and advisers must first run a needs review or fact find with clients, and follow up with a needs assessment or engagement letter.

“When we put together the small to medium enterprise (SME) research, based on 1500 needs assessments, we found that if you do a needs review and issue an engagement letter, if my need is urgent, then I’m likely to engage,” Bloxham told an SMSF Association New South Wales chapter breakfast event in Sydney last week.

“But we found that the critical piece was not in the needs assessment meeting, which enhances personal relationship trust, but it doesn’t get the engagement.

“The critical piece to get seven out of 10 advice service engagements within an SME business is to conduct a needs-to-solution meeting. That’s the breakthrough.”

He said his firm was spending a lot of time on this with accounting and planning practices.

Securing the engagement had been a major issue for many accounting practices who wanted to grow business advisory services, he said.
“In your needs-to-solution meeting you’ve got to implement full engagement tactics,” he said.

“The first tactic is you’ve got to highlight the potential for improvement so clients don’t [focus on] cost.

“The second tactic is whatever your solution is, show them what it is or provide a real-time demonstration of what you’ll do for them.

“For example, if someone needs an estate plan, most people don’t know what it is so are they going to buy it? No chance.”

The third tactic was discussing the benefits of the solutions, but accountants needed to focus on the non-financial benefits, he stressed.

“I was doing a needs assessment for a client with a very successful business and when we got to the needs-to-solution meeting, she said she had one big issue,” he said.

“Every Saturday morning she gets up and goes to work, but her friend who lives across the road is packing golf clubs into the boot and her other neighbour is gardening.

“She said she would pay anything to improve her lifestyle, so sometimes it’s not the numbers that motivate people to get engaged.”

He added fees should also be discussed upfront with clients during the needs-to-solution meeting.

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