David: What’s the best place to start? Should you go to a trusted current client and have these conversations, “Have somebody to practice with?” Is this tried for a new client, so completely fresh eyes and you don’t have to make that compliance shift. We’ll start with Steve on this one and go to Angie, and then we’ll wrap up because I know there’s a lot of questions around additional, how to present or grow the advisers services. Angie and Steve, I know, put out a lot of content. I want to make sure the audience has the ability to connect with you, go to your site, learn more, digest your content. For those that want to take that first step, again we’ll start with Steve on this one, should they go with existing clients, new clients, what’s the best avenue to first try out this conversation?
Steve: Yeah, great question. The answer is almost there in the question as you phrased it originally David. The worst place to start, are with, there are sectors and we all know what they are, you probably know. They may be different at your side of the pond, but over in this country for example, the very worst place to start would be with farmers. With anybody in agriculture because in Europe the whole of the EU has been trying to solve the farming, the problem of unsuccessful farms, and certainly an accountant is not going to be able to do that either. The second worst place to start are with people with MBA because they know it all already, or at least they think they do. Where you really want to start are with people who have pain, where they’re relatively simple businesses that you can understand readily and make a real difference to. One of the best strategies, I think, for making a start is to pick a business sector, one type of business a week, it might be hairdressers this week, next week it might be stationary retailers, the week after that it might be fast food restaurants or motor engineers, or, whatever. Pick one business each week, someone, a business sector that you are actually going to be meeting the following week, whether it’s a client or a prospect. You’re going to be talking to someone who is a hairdresser next week. So, get your entire team together for just 15 to 30 minutes, make it over lunch maybe on a Friday. Buy in some pizzas and get the team to just brainstorm ideas, some of which will be crazy and one or two of which will actually be quite interesting and useful, but could potentially be useful and valuable to that hairdresser or auto engineer, or whatever, you’re meeting next week.
If you do that process every week by the end of the year you’ll have 52 sets of ideas for 52 separate businesses. The subsequent week you go to that particular client, that particular hairdresser and say, “I got my entire team together last week to brainstorm your business, we came up with dozens of ideas, a few of them were quite frankly [inaudible 00:02:39], but actually I think one or two of them were quite interesting. Shall we take a look at them? What about, let’s talk about them.” It’s yet more proof and evidence that, one, you care, two, that you can be valuable. Of course, then, every other hairdresser that you ever meet or you ever talk to, you can say, “I got my entire team together a few weeks ago to brainstorm a hairdressing business just like yours, why don’t I share with you some of the insights?” You can leverage off that stuff over, and over, and over again. That’s a really practical approach to take in terms of building, and then you capture all those ideas. You write them up on a [inaudible 00:03:14] on the hard drive in a word file and then anybody can take those and factor them into any conversation with anybody. One of those 52 steps, after five years, you’ll have 250 types of businesses that you’ve brainstormed.
In terms of specifically whether you should go for existing clients or prospects, I have, I normally advise a three-step process. Step one, which, is initially talk to and practice your skills with one of your best clients. A client where there are a lot of deposits in the emotional bank account, where they like you a lot, and however well or not you do in that initial session, they’re not going to hold it against you, they’re going to be very forgiving.
I would go to that kind of client, a client that loves you, and say, “Dave we’re piloting,” and use that exact language, “We are piloting some new services, and [inaudible 00:04:04] rooted in the numbers to be more valuable to our clients, but it’s still early days. Would it be okay if I piloted those with you? At my expense, so it won’t cost you anything and, hopefully, will be really valuable to you. All I ask in return is that you give me some candid feedback so that I can improve that process going forward when I use it with others. Secondly, if you find it valuable that you give me a testimonial, because those testimonials would be hugely valuable to persuade others to take notice of you as well. And thirdly, that you’re gentle with me so that if it is a little bit rough around the edges, that’s okay.” Step one I would do it with my best clients or have one of our best clients to fine tune the skills, build up the case studies, get the testimonials. Secondly then, I would probably start rolling the same kind of service conversations out with prospects because the very worst that can happen when you meet a prospect is, they’re not a client at the beginning of the meeting and if you don’t do a good job they’re still not a client at the end, but you’ve not actually lost anything, have you?
Whereas, if you roll it out with the rest of your clients before you’re ready they might be a client at the beginning, you screw up, and they’re not a client by the end. There’s a downside in that case. First you do it on your great clients to pilot it, secondly, then start field testing it with prospects, because for many of you that’s what you want to do, bring more clients in to your firm. Thirdly, crucially, don’t just restrict that advisory stuff to prospects, because, your existing clients absolutely deserve high quality input from you.
When you’re ready to do the very best job you can, then start having that conversation with your existing clients. Why at that point? Because when you do the very best job, when you’re the most polished at delivering that kind of advice, having those kind of conversations, your clients will snap your hands off. In fact, they are, of course, the best and the easiest people to sell to because they trust you, know you, and like you already. That relationship exists.
I think you have to be ready first before you have those conversations with them.
David: I like the process of laying it out in a linear fashion because you don’t want to just segment just one and isolate it there. Angie, when somebody comes to you and is looking for the best place to start, but they’re nervous about going into this new ward of advisory conversations, and value conversations, what do you recommend as maybe one or two steps that they can take to get started here? After, we wrap up this question we’ll make sure the audience knows how to connect with you guys. I’m sure there’s tons of follow-up questions they have as well.
Angie: I’ll be brief. I would say existing clients are a great place to start. I would also just recommend that everybody listening meet with partners and service plan leaders in your organization and determine what those services are that could be beneficial across the board for clients. Then have a few people come with you on a client exploratory meeting, a client service meeting where you’re not charging the client. For me that would be the best advice just to get started.
David: Okay. Perfect. If, somebody has follow-up questions, I know you both were in a lot of content. You work with a number of firms here in North America and abroad, but if somebody has a question, or [inaudible 00:07:16] the content case studies, things like that, Angie we’ll start with you. What’s the best way for them to reach out, connect, learn more about all of the things that you are doing over there at The Rainmaker Companies?
Angie: Sure. My email is Angie@therainmakercompanies.com. My direct line is 6156271802. My website is www.therainmakercompanies.com.
David: Just to give some perspective on rainmakerscompanies.com. I guess at a high level what are some different facets that you help firms with, obviously advisory and building that arm up, is a portion of it. How else do you potentially work with firms. What types of things do you help firms with?
Angie: Sure. We work with accounting firms all over the world, primarily in the US, on growth consulting. We do business development programs, we are the original Rainmaker Academy, so we teach business development skill sets. We have a leadership academy and we have alliances of firms all over the world that are involved in different niches, like manufacturing, health care, not for profit, real estate, construction, auto dealers, for example. Also, an international alliance called Enterprise Worldwide where our group gets together for best practices.