Growing your practice takes a lot of consistent effort. To stand out from your competition, your clients need to view you as a partner, not just a supplier.
How can tax advisors move from being 'just a supplier'?
As you're probably aware, it's all about the depth of your relationships.
When you nurture your relationships, consistently add value and communicate often, you move from supplier to trusted partner in your client's eyes. These kinds of relationships garner a high ROI, and are broad, deep, and endure for years.
In the book All for One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnerships, Andrew Sobel found that there are ten essential strategies that you need to implement to develop and sustain this type of long-lasting relationship consistently.
So what are the ten steps?
The relationship manager for your business should drive the first five.
#1: Set the Agenda, don't react to theirs
Number one is being two steps ahead of your client. This means you don't wait for them to come to you with an issue - you actively set the Agenda, because you can engage them with value-added conversations about their essential needs and priorities.
#2: Build relationship capital
Here is where you focus on quality, not the number of relationships. There's no point having 50 client relationships that are just a light touch. A better approach would be to nurture 15 or 20 key relationships that will make a difference and making sure you stay in touch with them on a deeper level.
#3: Engage; don't sell
When you sell, you don't always see your client as a person. Building more effective relationships is about engaging at the human level. To engage, create a dialogue between you and a senior decision-maker about their critical issues, and build trust in your capacity to address them.
#4: Create institutional, not individual relationships
If you engage with one person at the firm, the relationship isn't as strong as it could be. By building multiple relationships within one business, you're much more likely to elevate yourself to 'trusted' advisor role.
#5 Offer multiple layers of value
As well as adding institutional and personal value, and both tangible and intangible value, you must also deliver expected and surprise value. Go above and beyond in what you provide, and you'll soon be a valuable asset to the team that nobody wants to lose.
After this, the next five steps must be driven by the firm, Sobel says:
#6: Target strategic clients
Are you working with the right clients? Those clients who will allow you to solve the right issues to propel you forward? Saying no is just as important as saying yes. Can you help clients strategically grow their business? When you know when you're well placed to add value, you become a trusted advisor.
#7 Develop a pipeline
Creating a pipeline of clients means that you're always nourishing your most important relationships, and you can see where each person is at every stage of the buying cycle. A pipeline will allow you to plan your most important client contact, and set regular check-in points to deeper the relationship.
#8 Make it a collaborative effort
Building trusted partnerships should be team-to-team, not individual-to-individual. Nurturing client relationships should be part of your business culture, and creating the right attitude, values and behaviours towards your client should be something that all of your team strives to adopt.
#9 Gain consistent feedback
There are lots of ways you can listen to your client. Firms that consistently build trusted partner relationships gain feedback regularly. For example, as well as independent reviews, they might offer an anonymous client forum, CEO meetings, and 360 feedback surveys.
#10 Create a unique client experience
How can you make your experience different from other tax or accountancy firms? Think about unique add-ons or personal touches that can make the interactions memorable. Making it easy for clients to connect with you, allowing clients to define their relationship preferences, and changing up the client meeting environment can all serve to make you a stand-out advisor.
Read the book: All For One. by Andrew Sobell. - This is not an affiliate link