It’s Client Development Time

After the crush of busy season is over, it’s the perfect time to get out and have meaningful discussions with your clients.  Discussions that go beyond the technical or project that you’ve recently working on with them.  Questions that probe wants, fears, pains and build rapport on a personal level. Get an update on how their business is doing.  Find out about what their kids are up to.  Learn what their growth plans are for the upcoming year.  Find out where they are headed for vacation next.  Find out what their biggest concerns are for the next quarter.

These types of casual “just to catch up” conversations are exactly what you need to get a sense for what your clients have top of mind.  And, when you know what’s on your client’s mind, you can help them with it – and that’s what being a trusted advisor is all about.

Here are eight questions that can help you create a deeper relationship with your clients:

  1. Anything related to children, grandchildren, pets, passions, hobbies, vacations and personal matters. These maintain and build rapport and connection points that add significant value to the relationship.
  2. How does the first half of the year stack up compared to last year?
  3. Are you considering any expansion plans in the next few years?
  4. Is M&A part of your plan for the future?
  5. What’s going really well with your business right now?
  6. What’s not going very well with your business right now?
  7. Have you thought any more about retirement?
  8. How can I/we help you be more successful?

As you can imagine, the conversations that transpire around any number of these questions could be an area you can help the client with, and if not immediately, you can certainly keep it on your RADAR for future mention.  For example, if you find out that the client plans expansion in a new market, you can offer to introduce them to your state and local tax expert who can talk to them about possible new NEXUS issues related to that expansion.  Or, if you learn that the client may be interested in acquiring a vulnerable competitor later in the year, you can follow-up and offer assistance at that time.

When you think about the actual questions you plan to ask, they can be on any topic as long as they drive toward building a better relationship with your client.  Whether that’s simply a stronger personal connection, or general advice, or specialized consulting and services, you’ll be investing in and developing a stronger bond between you and the client.  That’s ultimately the goal here, developing your client relationships into entities that go beyond the accountant-client space.  And now is the perfect time to do it!

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