Accountancy skills – The art of preparing for an initial client meeting

February 12th 2020 | Posted by Dave Cross

Accountancy skills – The art of preparing for an initial client meeting

Accountancy skills - The art of preparing for an initial client meeting

As with any business, acquiring new clients is the lifeblood of most accountancy firms.

Whether you already have an established client base, or are just starting to build one, attracting new business is important. It helps you to flourish as an accountant in what is a competitive market place.

It could be that you are able to acquire new clients through word of mouth alone, or you may need to invest time and effort in enhanced marketing. No matter how you attract potential clients, it’s vital that you make a good impression. One of the first chances you get to do this is during your initial meeting with the client. This means that it’s vital to prepare for this meeting in the right way.

Make sure that you are on time

No-one likes to be kept waiting. For this reason, it’s vital that you meet your client on time. Gather everything that you need for the meeting, the day before. This reduces the chance of any delays occurring on the day.

It’s also a good idea to research the journey you need to make. Yes, you may have a sat nav in your car, but this will not help if you come across unexpected obstacles.

Ensure that you know what questions you need to ask

When you meet a client for the first time, it’s important to ask relevant open questions such as…

  • Tell me about your business.
  • Explain your payroll.
  • Tell me about your inventory.
  • Explain your current accounting and tax situation.

Questioning the client in this way allows you to gain a deeper understanding of their business and their accounting needs.

Be prepared to really listen to what the client has to say. Remember that this meeting should always be about accessing how you can help the client and not about simply promoting your accounting skills.

Tell the client what they need to bring with them

You should never assume that a client will bring all of the necessary information with them. Be specific about items that they need to bring. This could include documentation relating to income, payroll, loans and taxes. Having all of this information available makes it easier for you to have a constructive meeting.

Make use of technology

Your client is likely to have plenty of questions to ask you. As an accounting professional, you should have most of the necessary answers.

However, it may be necessary for you to research the answers to some of the questions. Having a smartphone or tablet with you means that you should be able to find the information that you need.

You may also want to use Skype to communicate with a colleague at another location, should the need arise.

Summarise at the end of the meeting

As the meeting is coming to an end, it helps to summarise what had been discussed and what the next steps will be. This enhances the understanding of the client. It also allows you to mentally check that you have all of the information that you need.

This is important because you do not want to have to go back to the client to get additional information unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so. They will expect you to need to collect data but will not be impressed by contact that should not have been necessary.

Taking these actions helps to ensure that the first interview with a new client goes smoothly. This is vital if you want to develop a good ongoing relationship.

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