Discovery Calls

A discovery call is typically a brief conversation between an accountant or bookkeeper and their client to explore their services, see if they are a good match for each other, and find out what the client wants. A discovery call can ensure that you are on the same page, and help both parties avoid wasting time with someone who isn’t right for them.  It would happen before the engagement process, and without it turning into a consultation session where formal advice is being given.

Here are some exploratory questions that Accountants or bookkeepers can ask during this conversation. The questions give the client an opportunity to actually think about what they want and for the accountant or bookkeeper an opportunity to demonstrate active listening, an important skill for advisory.

  1. What are you looking for in your new accountant or bookkeeper?
  2. What relationship do you want with your accountant or bookkeeper?
  3. What systems are you currently using?
  4. What deadlines do you need to meet?
  5. What are your pain points?
  6. Why are you looking for an accountant or bookkeeper? (This is code for: What don’t you like about your current accountant or bookkeeper?)
  7. Tell me a bit about your business? (e.g. Industry)
  8. How long have you been in business?
  9. What is your number one overriding financial objective?
  10. What are your business growth plans or goals?
  11. Do you have any specifics of your situation I should know about?
  12. Do you believe in telepathy? (Ha Ha, Joke question … or is it?)

BONUS QUESTIONS : What did I not ask you that I should have? and wrap it up with Do they have any questions for you?

The right questions helps you find out if they are a good match for your practice. They can open up the conversation, so you both have a good idea of what to expect and determine if you can deliver what they want. Some of the initial questions can be bookmarked to revisit periodically as the relationship and the business evolves.

Further elements of the screening process can include:

Providing an initial survey before the call. This can be set up as a contact form on your website.
Meeting the client, either virtually or in real life.
A Review or Health Check of current systems. This review could be undertaken in several ways, either:

  • Ask for a standard set of reports from the accounting software; the right reports will tell you what you need to know.
  • Access their accounting software, take a look around and undertake a review of their existing systems. A solution like XBert can do the heavy lifting here.

Some offer the Health Check as a free service and as a lead generation tool. Others provide a comprehensive service and charge a standard price for it. In fact some offer the Discovery Call as a free call, while others would charge for it. I’m always mindful, if the session needs to be covered by insurance, than I need to charge for it. So it depend on how deep you’re prepared to take the conversation, and where you want it to go.

When my son needed orthodontics I made appointments with the three orthodontics. I made it clear I was visiting other Orthodontics, and I wanted to know upon them reviewing his teeth, what course of action they planned to take, and how much it would cost. I was prepared to pay for each visit because, I knew it was a long, and potentially expensive process, and I wanted to make an informed decision. Here’s what surprised me. Each one quoted the exact same amount, while each one suggested different treatments, and offered a vastly different service, and. The one we choose to go with, provided a five year inclusive service plan. We are so grateful we spent the time upfront having a discovery session with our orthodontist. 

This information gathered during a discovery call assists you in providing a comprehensive quote for the new client.

How is the screen process progressing?

What are your reflections on the client

  1. Do they fit strategically?
  2. Do their values align with yours?
  3. Will they fit with your existing client base? If not, is that an issue?
  4. Do you think you will like working with them?
  5. Are they willing to listen?

You may realise the client’s not a match for your services offerings, and that’s perfectly OK and may save you a lot of headache in the long run. Without burning bridges, I’ve respectfully said no to clients who’d not listen to me. Months later, they came back to me, ready to work with me on my terms. We now have a great and mutually respectful working relationship.

Discovery Calls: Do you have them? What questions do you ask them?

This article was inspired by our weekly Community Chats which you can join or watch back here

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