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In the Calm Before the Storm, Sit Down and Talk with Your Clients

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Dec 19th 2014
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Before things get really hectic in tax season, consider how you can plan meetings with clients, and interact with them in a meaningful way. The end of the calendar year provides an excellent chance to discuss the opportunities that a new year brings.

While many of our firms spend a good amount of time seeking ways to "cross-sell", we may not be really helping our clients with the business or family issues that are the most challenging. For example, how often do you talk to a client about strategic planning? Do you know if they have a current business plan, marketing plan, or succession plan? If not, remember that we should be advising our clients on how to work "on" their business, not just "in" it. Being proactive, making suggestions, and addressing issues before they become problematic is hard work, but it is worth the extra effort. You do not need a crystal ball to see the future, you just need to ask the right questions, listen to your clients’ answers, and look for ways to add value.

My suggestion to you as partners in a CPA firm—local or regional—is for each of you to create an Excel spreadsheet that includes all the names of your "A" and "B" corporate clients. I would use this as a thought-provoking tool to use as you ask yourself how you can add real value to each and every client on the list. What do you provide beyond an annual audit, financial statement preparations or tax planning and compliance? Have you recently talked to your clients about cash flow and budgeting, estate planning, leadership training for the successor generation, or even their timeline for retirement?

I know these are tough, frequently emotional questions. But it is you, the CPA who is best-positioned to be asking, prodding, guiding, or compelling clients to consider these and other critical decisions. It is you, as the trusted advisor, who should be encouraging clients to look to the future so they can be well prepared to reach their goals.

If you have not reached out to clients recently, take a moment now to arrange a meeting. Use the time together to address the key issues that you typically don’t talk about that may lead to sustainable profitability and successful growth.

About the author:
Sally Glick is CMO and principal of Sobel & Co. LLC. She was named Accounting Marketer of the Year for 2003 and was voted into the AAM Hall of Fame in 2007. She can be reached at [email protected].

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