Accountability, Coaching and Mentoring
Training alone transfers knowledge, but to achieve mastery takes practice and as with everything in life, it is much easier to practice with a little bit of coaching. The process can be likened to getting fit, you can go to the Gym and learn how to use the equipment, but unless or until you use it regularly, your level of fitness does not improve.
The potential rewards are tremendous, but anything new and unfamiliar has a tendency to getting put off until later, so whilst it is impossible to guarantee the outcome of any particular meeting with a client one thing is sure, if the right ‘Conversation’ does not take place, the desired ‘Outcomes’ will never happen, (in exactly the same way as if you visited the Gym, but did not use any of the equipment whilst you were there).
Accountability drives results
If you have invested in having people trained, you should already have an ideal of what you are hoping to achieve as a result, for most practices the targets for success are set extremely low, but even then, the ROI is superb, example:
Assuming your agreed target / objective is for each active Client Manager to speak to circa 48 clients and/or prospects in the first 12 months, that equates to 4 conversations a month, or approximately 1 a week. What is the expectation from each meeting? Most practices have the following as their base plan or expected monthly fee income / service agreement as a result of 48 conversations with suitably selected clients, specifically those who are likely to need and want help:
The range of fee income is driven by 1) the size and complexity of the client’s business and 2) the skills, ability, confidence, and experience of the Client Manager. Clearly 1) is fixed, but 2) can only improve with practice. The key issue you need to be aware of is this: You and your Client Managers must become comfortable with the client saying ‘No’, (or more precisely, not yet or not now…).
When the time and the circumstances are right, AND when your client perceives that your Client Managers are sufficiently convincing and compelling, that is when the answer will move from ‘Not Yet’ to ‘Yes’, so your expectations might look something like this:
Success means the minimum incremental fee income each active Client Manager should expect to deliver is circa £60,000, with a more likely mid-point of between £120,000 per active Client Manager in year 1 alone. Just think how much incremental fee income your team could achieve in years 2, 3 and beyond.
It is important to bear in mind Financial Advisory services are typically extremely high margin. Whilst there is a cost for, training, technology, and initial setup, once operational, the time needed to support your incremental revenue is very low making the incremental recurring fee income extremely high margin, typically in excess of 90% GP.
Accountability, Coaching and Mentoring are part of the initial setup cost and typically include 13 joint meetings. Assuming the VFD Mastery Training takes place months 1 to 3, you and your team will meet weekly during month 4, reducing to fortnightly during month 5, and then monthly for months 6 through 12.
- Accountability Check-In meetings: Having established your financial targets and the projected activity* (the number of client meetings, for example, one per week per active Client Manager), weekly accountability calls to make sure everyone is ‘on-plan’ vastly increase the chances that meetings take place.
Initially we will do this together, thereafter ideally you and your team will continue weekly meetings to review progress, discuss and address any blocks and barriers and to help hold each other to account to make sure everyone stays ‘on-plan’.
- Coaching: As with anything new, you and your team will effectively be refining, practicing, and perfecting your ‘Client Discussions’, working to maximise the ‘Wow’ factor with clients by helping them to fully appreciate the value of effective financial reporting and controls and the importance of ensuring their business is exit ready.
An inevitable consequence of these discussion, with the right client and at the right time, will be a revised scope of works whereby you and your client agree on the nature of the financial support required resulting in a new and enhanced service level agreement and associated fee income to be charged.
The ‘sales’ process does not stop there, ideally this is the start of what will be a continual up-sell as the client enjoys ever greater success and needs more and more financial support as they move through various stages of start-up, scale-up growth and exit.
By meeting regularly we can coach you and your staff to improve skills, resulting in better meetings and ever improving levels of success, converting meetings into additional recurring fee income.
- Mentoring: When your client eventually says ‘yes’ you and your team will flip from delight having successfully agreed the scope of additional financial support, and in the next second mild panic sets in as you realise that now you need to deliver.
This is where the mentoring comes in because every client is unique, and whilst the tool kit is common to all, the specific needs and the process for each client will need to be adjusted to suit the specific circumstances.
Every engagement goes through a ‘Honeymoon Period’ where lots happens and everyone is typically very enthusiastic, but to survive long term you have to get traction and you have to deliver tangible financial results or your client will understandably terminate the agreement, or if you offer one, call on your guarantee and ask for a refund.
Frequently client inaction will cause delays so you need to know how to overcome these challenges, frequently by selling additional services to ensure you get traction and deliver an outstanding ROI for your clients so that by the end of the ‘Honeymoon Period’ your services are not jusvalued, but your client sees you as invaluable to their business and their success.
This is ideally clarified as part of the Client Segmentation and Strategic Planning Workshop which will increase team ‘buy-in’ and provide a real-world practice for an essential and chargeable service you will ideally conduct with clients as part of your Part-Time / Virtual Finance Director / CEO service offering.