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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, a partner in an accounting firm, to identify a situation where they rushed towards a solution without really engaging the client up front? What could they have done differently to better engage the client?

Learner Reflection

I had a client a number of years ago who approached me to provide more strategic services rather than just compliance.  However, this client was always cost sensitive even with compliance work, thus I was always reluctant to provide him more vCFO services.

With this in mind, I rushed towards providing him a solution without going through the necessary steps in engaging the client.  In hindsight, I should have spent more time in building quality rapport to help articulate his aspirations and afflictions by ensuring the client understood the value gap between my usual compliance service and better identify the real value associated with the business advisory project that I was undertaking for him.

Unfortunately, by cutting corners I was unable to explain the true value gap of my service in uncovering the impact of success and failure from my benchmarking project for this client and was unable to sell this perception of where the client wanted to be in the future in order to gain commitment from him.

What I would do differently to generate interest in advisory services is that I wouldn’t rush through the ‘sales’ process even if the solution is clear to me.  I may see the value by spending more time on a strategic project, but the client may not, as was the case with this particular client.

With this client, I didn’t take the time to ask the right questions at the beginning as I was hesitant to spend valuable time and resources with the client’s price sensitivity issues.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get the client across the line, and not long after, he left our practice.

Having discussions through discovery conversations before undertaking any project is imperative in unlocking the interests of the client.  If we don’t have interest, it’s much harder to get engagement.  Instead of going straight to the solution like I did, I should have confirmed the agreement and developed a proposal presented in a visual way that clearly outlines the client’s needs and what the value proposition of the work undertaken.  It conveys to the client that we are serious and that our firm is capable of undertaking the proposal.

Feedback from our experts

It’s easy to rush the process of getting clients ‘across the line’ with new services when it’s clear to the advisor that the client will benefit. Unfortunately, the client doesn’t always see things in the same way. As outlined in this example, fee sensitivity is a common stumbling block to successful engagement.

However, the real issue is not often the client’s inability to pay the fee for service, but more so their lack of understanding or appreciation of the value of the proposed service to them. A formal process of identifying what’s important to the client, then giving them an opportunity to explore the benefit of moving ahead (and the pain of not) will be more likely to get them to agree to the engagement.

There’s also a clear danger in assuming that because the client trusts their accountant (or advisor) in relation to current services being provided, this will extend to new services. It’s best not to take the relationship for granted, but to treat any new service as an opportunity to ‘re-engage’ the client.

RAIN Selling is a sales methodology that focuses on understanding and addressing the client’s needs and challenges to create value and build trust throughout the sales process. The acronym RAIN stands for Rapport, Aspirations and Afflictions, Impact, and New Reality. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps:

  1. Rapport:
  • Build a Connection: Establish a positive and genuine connection with the prospect. Show interest in them as a person, not just a potential sale.
  • Establish Trust: Demonstrate credibility and reliability. Share relevant experiences or knowledge to showcase your expertise.
  • Listen Actively: Pay close attention to what the client is saying and show empathy and understanding.
  1. Aspirations and Afflictions:
  • Understand Their Goals (Aspirations): Identify what the client hopes to achieve, both in the short and long term. Understand their vision and objectives.
  • Identify Their Challenges (Afflictions): Uncover the problems or issues they are facing that might be hindering them from reaching their goals.
  • Ask Probing Questions: Use open-ended questions to delve deeper and gain a comprehensive understanding of their aspirations and afflictions.
  1. Impact:
  • Quantify the Cost of Inaction: Help the client understand the potential impact of not addressing their challenges or pursuing their goals.
  • Highlight the Benefits of Action: Emphasize how your product or service can alleviate their challenges and contribute to achieving their aspirations.
  • Create a Sense of Urgency: Establish why it’s crucial to act now, rather than later.
  1. New Reality:
  • Present a Solution: Show how your product or service provides a solution to their problems and a pathway to their goals.
  • Create a Vision: Help them visualize the positive outcomes and new reality that your solution can bring about.
  • Address Concerns: Proactively address any potential objections or concerns, reassuring them of the value and effectiveness of your solution.
  1. Commitment and Next Steps:
  • Secure Commitment: Once the client is convinced of the value, ask for their commitment or make the closing ask.
  • Define Next Steps: Clearly outline the next steps in the process, ensuring both parties know what to expect and what actions are required.
  • Follow Up: Continue to nurture the relationship, check in on their progress, and offer support as needed.

Key take-away: The RAIN Selling methodology is all about creating value and building trust by addressing the client’s needs and challenges in a comprehensive and empathetic manner. It requires active listening, genuine engagement, and a consultative approach to introducing new services to clients.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Business Analytics for Managers eLearning Course. Click here to explore this course

Also, take a look at the Virtual CFO Essentials eLearning Course

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