As you move from accountant/bookkeeper to coach and then trusted advisor, the number of issues that you choose to highlight to your client will dramatically decrease. That’s because the amount of focus/clarity you provide is directly proportionate to the amount of value you add.
No doubt your clients have a list of 30 things on their to-do list, and when they meet with you there are many issues competing for priority or attention. The truth is, however, that only one or two of them are critical to the survival of the business. Your mission is to sift through all the noise and focus your client on the things that are urgent and important. If your client leaves your office (or a meeting with you) and still has 30 items on their to-do list, you can safely conclude that you are still in the accountant/advisor dimension.
Because focus is essential to your role as a trusted advisor, you also need to become crystal clear on what you need to do to grow revenues from advisory services this year. That’s why it’s essential to specify in writing your targets for growing the advisory services of your practice. These targets must be written down and laser-focused in order to be effective, compelling, and measurable. Rather than adopting a broad, shotgun approach, start by identifying one or two specific niches of clients that you will focus on this year to achieve those targets.
Think of this process as laying the groundwork for your shift to a new way of doing business. If you are unable to articulate a succinct and clear plan for yourself, you will struggle to assist your clients to obtain the required level of clarity.
Time Is Your Enemy
In the old days, you could get away with pricing your services using time-based billing. That practice has already become redundant for two reasons:
- The first has to do with the automation of data processing and analysis of WHAT transpired in the past.
- The second has to do with the evolution of the client’s needs — they have come to expect and demand more of us and they also have access to more choice regarding who they can consult to get insights and answers (coaches, consultants, add-on app partners, roboadvisors, Google).
Accountants/bookkeepers sell time, but a trusted advisor sells insights and THE solution to the problems that are keeping his/her clients up at night.
Instead of merely charging based on the time involved, you now have the option — as you move into the realms of coaching and becoming the trusted advisor — to take into account the potential value you can deliver. Some refer to this as “value pricing,” but at its essence you are shifting to a pricing strategy that takes into account your long-term business relationship and the insights you can deliver based on your knowledge, skills, focus, and mindset.
In most cases, as you move from providing compliance services to coaching and strategic advice, your stable of offerings/services will expand dramatically in breadth and depth. You start delivering significant opportunities to earn passive revenue streams due to your association with various software suppliers. However, the upside potential in your remuneration will primarily be tied to the insights you deliver, which underscores the importance of investing in continuous improvement and training for yourself and all team members who are client-facing.
In the next article we will explore in depth the new focus, skills, and mindset you must obtain in order to successfully execute the transition.