Client onboarding is your first opportunity to prove to new clients that they made the right choice when they chose your firm. It’s all about starting the relationship on a reliable, productive, positive, and engaging footing, leading to a better working relationship and more referrals!
When you deliver an on-brand, reliable and deeply engaging onboarding experience, you’ll improve your bottom line.
There are many moving parts to onboarding, with responsibility for tasks spanning several departments. From first meeting with your future client, to proposal and acceptance and right through to delivery of services and feedback, your process needs to be comprehensive.
We call this meeting the Proactive Accounting Meeting.
The Proactive Accounting Meeting (PAM) is a complimentary 60-minute discovery meeting with a prospective client to establish fit and begin the relationship on the best possible footing.
The PAM is essentially a goal-setting session that determines how you can serve a potential client to help them achieve more mind, time, and financial freedom. It’s a key step in effective onboarding as it enables you to attract quality clients and alert you to potential tyre-kickers. (Check out our 8 Questions for Effective New Client Screening). This meeting will also increase the average fee per client without product pushing.
The PAM is structured to:
Proposals are not sales engines! Before you send any proposal, it’s vital you gain conceptual agreement with your client as to the services you’ll deliver and the price for those services. Gaining conceptual agreement is best done at the PAM meeting. That way, you can overcome any natural objections your client might have.
We’re about to mention the ‘S’ word - Sales! We get that accountants don’t love that word, yet the reality is that today’s accountant needs to know how to sell. Having a consistent definition for each of your services, agreeing your base price for each of those services, and your preferred payment options will also help to minimise Scope Stretch.
Using proposal software to generate a beautiful ‘on brand’ document that your client can accept electronically, positions you as professional and organised and removes friction from what can be an awkward process.
Here’s where your administration team sweeps up the AML/CFT checks, obtains authorities to act and completes CRM set up. There are lots of moving parts here, so having a comprehensive Client Onboarding Checklist is key.
You may like to use Trello or other software to track all the steps in onboarding. This way, your entire team will have visibility as to what stage each client is at. Some firms also use Zapier to trigger automations such as workflow and billing.
Start as you mean to go on. Send a welcome email, perhaps even a gift or kit with information of value and vouchers for upcoming client events or webinars. You get one chance to create a first impression. Remember that this is also a marketing opportunity and that most of your referrals probably come from existing clients.
This should be done by the person who manages the client relationship. This is an opportunity to check in on the client experience so far. It also builds trust and rapport (and may unlock further opportunities to work together). Very few firms do this! Consider it your secret marketing weapon.
Effective onboarding combines the skills and attributes of your marketing, administration, and accounting teams, creating a cohesive client experience strategy.
Written by: Viv Brownrigg, FCA | Co-founder and Director of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships