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In today’s episode of ‘From the eLearning Trenches,’ we asked one of our learners, a partner in public practice, to develop a checklist for the development and presentation of a proposal for a Virtual CFO Client. Be sure to incorporate (a) an initial needs assessment, (b) a 3-option proposal and (c) a formal presentation.

Learner Reflection

Step 1 – Initial Contact

On first contact, attempt to gather as much information as possible about the client’s circumstances, goals, problems, questions and the solution they believe would suit their needs best.

(Optional) Initial Consult – Meet with client to discuss in more detail:

  • The circumstances of the business, to get a more complete picture of the current-state. Also uncover why they decided to contact you.
  • The goals of the organisation and the individuals in the business, to understand the motivators and ideal end-state.
  • The problems face by the organisation, and where the business believes what the causes and contributory factors are.
  • Uncover what the business’ unknowns are, what questions do they have for us as part of preparing a solution.
  • Their ideal solution, even if the client can’t describe what the solution is, they are likely to be able to describe the side-effects of a solution, such as increased profitability, or more efficient processes, or better internal controls or visibility within the business.

Step 2 – Initial Solution 

This step of the process should try to produce 3 solutions that meet increasingly more of the issue as the client looks up the scale, with an obviously increasing ROI on their spend and more complete solution. The preparer should ensure that the entry level solutions still address the main issue faced by the client, but does so in a cost-effective, bare-bones manner. The more complete solutions should look to address not just the issue, but it’s side effects more completely, as well as add on additional benefits and value-add items to the solution.

Step 3- Presentation

Ideally in person with the key decision makers and decision influencers in the room, as well as representative stakeholders who will be directly impacted by the solution. Should the solution satisfy the needs of the stakeholders, they will be the most vocal supporters and be able to sway decision influencers and decision makers.

Step 4- Follow-up

Follow up is the most critical step of all and should be within 3-5 days of the presentation (dependent on what is appropriate based on the client and conversation), and be a phone call at minimum, and face to face if possible. It’s ideal that the follow up be booked with the client during the presentation so that they are expecting to be contacted.

Feedback from our experts

The learner has come up with an effective process for identifying client needs, presenting a meaningful proposal and getting the client across the line.  It’s great that the learner has spent most time on initial contact and solution.

Without adequate up-front time taken really understanding client needs and developing a solution, it’s unlikely that the client will be really engaged in discussing next steps. It’s always important to remember that often, the client doesn’t understand the value of the ‘solution,’ even though it may be very clear to the partner providing the proposal.

A 3-option proposal gives the client the opportunity to consider what they need, what they want and what they can afford. By giving them choices, clarity in relation to scope of work becomes clearer. And it’s a lot easier to manage client expectation down the track.

Finally, client may often take time to consider a significant business advisory proposal. Don’t become discouraged if they don’t immediately agree. A soft follow-up over time will generally get a result if the value of the proposal is clear. I’ve seen this time and time again. Give the client the opportunity to absorb the proposal and come back to you at a time that suits them.

5 key steps to get clients across the line:

  1. Assess Client Needs and Historical Data: Use your knowledge of the client’s business and past financial data to identify specific areas where a Virtual CFO could add value. This could involve more advanced financial analysis, cash flow management, strategic planning, or risk assessment.
  2. Develop a Tailored Proposal: Create a proposal that is customised to address the unique challenges and goals of the client. The proposal should clearly articulate how the Virtual CFO Service can build on the work already being done and provide additional insights and benefits.
  3. Demonstrate the ROI: Show the client concrete examples or case studies where your Virtual CFO Services have made a significant impact. Highlight the return on investment through improved financial outcomes, cost savings, or revenue growth opportunities that could be achieved.
  4. Personalised Presentation and Discussion: Arrange a meeting to present your proposal. Since the client is already familiar with your services, focus on the enhanced value and strategic support the Virtual CFO Service will offer. Allow time for questions and be prepared to discuss how this service integrates with their current use of your services.
  5. Address Concerns and Customise Offerings: Listen to any concerns the client may have about adopting the Virtual CFO Service. Be flexible and willing to adjust the proposal to better fit their needs. Offer different levels or phases of the service to allow them to step into the full service over time if they are hesitant

Key takeaway: Getting existing business clients to agree to a proposal for a Virtual CFO Service involves leveraging the established relationship while demonstrating the additional value that this service can offer.

This assessment task and response is taken from the Virtual CFO Essentials eLearning course. Click here to explore this course

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

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