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Do's and Don'ts of Preparing for Client Meetings

Scouts have “Be prepared” as their motto. It works well for accountants, too, especially when meeting face to face with clients.

Sep 9th 2019
accountant, client, business

To ensure you successfully onboard new customers and keep current ones, make sure you follow these do's and don'ts.

Initial Meetings with Potential Clients

Here are a few simple tips to make that first meeting with a potential client a success:

  1. Don’t Be Late: People are busy. Being late is an instant disadvantage. Think about how you feel when you show up for an appointment with your doctor and they keep you waiting 30 minutes.
  2. Do Come with Questions: There are things you need to learn. Know in advance the data you need to gather.
  3. Do Dress Nicely: It only takes seconds to form an initial impression. Your business is numbers. Appearing neat and tidy conveys you pay attention to detail.
  4. Do Tell Them What to Bring: Your doctor usually requires a blood test before your physical. You can’t produce a tax return if your client doesn’t provide the necessary documentation. They need to come prepared too.
  5. Don’t Omit Technology: You may need to check something. They might ask a question about a ruling. You need the ability to check information on the fly without asking to use their laptop or tablet. You might not be able to sit across from each other, but Skype or Facetime conversations can add the human dimension lacking in phone calls.
  6. Do Request Both Parties Attend: Signatures might be required. Decision need to be made. One person can’t sign or make decisions for another unless they have a Power of Attorney.
  7. Don’t Neglect Important Questions: Potential clients are usually open to answering any question at the initial meeting. The understand data gathering. But if you call a day or two later with questions you forgot to ask, they may assume you were unprepared.
  8. Don’t Forget to Look Around: If you are in their office or home, there are plenty of clues about their interests, accomplishments and what’s important to them. Take mental notes.

Face-to-Face Meetings With Current Clients

There’s lots of overlap between the rules for initial meetings and subsequent meetings with current clients. Here are some more appropriate for ongoing relationships:

  1. Do Provide an Agenda: Send it to your client ahead of time. Let them know what you want to discuss. Ask if they want to add any agenda items. If so, provide a revised agenda before the meeting.
  2. Don’t Rely on Aged Information: If you also provide financial planning or investment advice, there are likely client statements showing current values for their holdings. Assuming you have access, use numbers current as of the previous business day. Since your client can access these online, you look unprepared if you are using the previous month’s numbers.
  3. Do Know the Names of Their Spouse and Children: It personalizes the relationship. They will feel you are taking an interest in them as individuals.
  4. Don’t Assume They Know What You Do for Them: When things run smoothly, you are just “doing your job.” They probably don’t know what this involves. Briefly review the services you are providing and how you’ve helped in the background.
  5. Do Anticipate Likely Questions: Doesn’t everyone have concerns about tax law changes? Having a ready answer shows you are prepared.
  6. Don’t Treat Fees as the Elephant in the Room: Many people hope fees won’t come up in conversation. Know what they have been paying. Have a rationale for explaining them and the value you bring to the table.
  7. Do Ask for Referrals: Your client will likely appreciate the personal attention. Ask who else they might be able to help. Have a couple of suggestions of people in mind beforehand.
  8. Don’t Neglect Coffee: If they are meeting at your office, ask if they would like coffee or tea. Ideally your office has attractive china cups and saucers. It sets the tone.

Over time, clients get comfortable with you. Face-to-face meetings might become less frequent. Each time you have one, it’s an opportunity to strengthen the relationship.

This series on the power of face-to-face relationships is bought to you in association with BQE CORE, which uses cutting-edge AI technology to make sure that you are fully up to speed with your client's activity - empowering you to be on top of your game.

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