The Wize Guys

Episode 28: Selling the sizzle not the sausage - Get paid for your advice with our 3-phase discovery, proposal, and production system

September 22, 2022 Wize Mentoring for Accountants and Bookkeepers Season 1 Episode 28
The Wize Guys
Episode 28: Selling the sizzle not the sausage - Get paid for your advice with our 3-phase discovery, proposal, and production system
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Episode 28: Selling the sizzle not the sausage - Get paid for your advice with our 3-phase discovery, proposal, and production system

“Selling the sizzle and not the sausage is a philosophy that we have in Wize. What we mean by this is that the client manager is not necessarily the most technical person on the team.”

In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Wize Mentors, Timothy Causbrook with Thomas Sphabmixay, and Kristy Fairbairn discuss how the three phases of the process ~ discovery, proposal, and production give every accounting practice the opportunity to scale their marketing, sales, service, revenue growth and M&A’s.


0:35 - Reasons why sales are essential for your accounting firm
1:48 - The 3-phase framework system of discovery, proposal, and production
6:26 - Issue #1: Not charging for every service you do
7:19 - Issue #2: Dealing with ad hoc services
8:42 - Issue #3: No menu of services to offer
10:28 - Issue #4: No ideal leadership structure
11:16 - The importance of having a menu of services
12:51 - Issue #5: Budget constraints
16:07 - Issue #6: Needing more work
17:39 - Issue #7: Upselling client services
19:51 - Issue #8: Marketing the practice
25:53 - The best time to give a client proposal
26:45 - Issue #9: The irony of having low service rates
27:17 - Tips for training client managers
31:56 - The philosophy of selling the sizzle not the sausage
33:50 - Basic work vs ad hoc pricing


“When clients are coming to us, like we as advisers, whether you're a bookkeeper, your accountant, or your lawyer, it doesn't matter. We should take a step back to actually see how can we learn more about their problem.” - Thomas Sphabmixay 









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Episode 28: Selling the sizzle not the sausage - Get paid for your advice with our 3-phase discovery, proposal, production system

“Selling the sizzle and not the sausage is a philosophy that we have in Wize. What we mean by this is that the client manager is not necessarily the most technical person on the team. They've been off the tools for so long that don't really get involved in processing the work. ‘So what do you do with this type of employee?’ The purpose now with the client is really to ask questions, understand the problems, and allow them to share a lot more than the client manager is talking about.”

Tim Causbrook: Thomas and some of the other mentors as well on scaling ~ selling the sizzle, not the sausage. 

So just to start us off, Thomas, We're looking at the scale, which is probably one of the toughest things for accounting firms to master. We're not naturally good at sales. If we were Ed likes to say, we'd be in a different industry, but that's not to say that sales aren't very important. So we're big on systems in Wize, if you haven't noticed. And Thomas in his time as a Wize mentor, and as a mentee has developed, you've developed a really great kind of system for capturing those sales. 

So just for some context for everyone as you're well aware, if you're here, many firms give away a lot of their knowledge and IP for free to their clients and in the spirit of addressing the problem and not the symptoms we want to look at, what are the core reasons for this happening in firms and how can we turn conversations into an opportunity to better serve clients and generate more revenue. 

So with that in mind, Thomas, when it comes to a practical system to follow, to take advantage of these opportunities, you've talked often over the last few years, about a three-phase process of discovery, a proposal, and production. Can you walk us through exactly how this addresses the problem and what this entails? 

Thomas Sphabmixay: Yeah. Look, and just before I dive into it, when we're looking at any part of a system in a firm, it easily becomes complicated. It seems that there are so many steps and facets that we need to get right. And it's just really important that when we approach anything, we approach it with a simple framework.

A lot of the time when clients are coming to us with queries, we're having a high volume of emails coming towards us. It's really easy just to get overwhelmed and then treat those situations as if I'm just going to respond to an email. And then that would be it. Or the client calls me up on the phone, I'm in the middle like this, the staff might be in the middle of a tax return or something like this. And it's easy enough to just say, ‘Oh, hopefully, if I just answered them, they would go away.’ But so much value is lost there. When clients are calling you up, they're not calling you to have a fun chat. They actually have a problem right then and there. And it's just not good enough to be able to think, ‘All right. If I just deal with them, hopefully, they go away and never come back.’ That's not how we should be running the business. 

So we want to be able to capture these situations and actually turn it into something a lot more, turn it into something where it's going to produce more business for the teams. So then, that brings us to this three-phase workflow framework that really helps encapsulate all. But from the moment that the client sends you an email, having a chat with them from putting together a proposal and then actually having it go to production. So with this three-phase workflow system, essentially what we're trying to achieve here is when clients come to you, they're suffering from something. I need someone to listen to them. They're willing to tell you all their problems. And when they tell you the problems, of course, you're going to have solutions to be able to help them with coming from your menu of services. 

We encourage our client managers that instead of just trying to answer them, and that's it take a step back to pause and plan instead of panicking about another email, or another triage item, and work together with the team to set up an appointment with the client and just take a step back and have a conversation with them. They're coming to you and they're saying, ‘I need an accountant's letter, nine times out of 10.’ The firm would just put it together and send it out to the client. They come to you and say, ‘Can you give me a copy of your financial, my financial statements, and tax returns? So what do we usually do?’ We go, ‘Let me go grab that for you real quick.’ That's not a great way to deal with it. When clients are coming to us, like we as advisers, whether you're a bookkeeper, your accountant, or your lawyer, it doesn't matter. We should take a step back to actually see how can we learn more about their problem. ‘How can we discover the opportunities that we might be able to actually help them with?’ It doesn't matter if it's a new client or an existing client, in every situation that arises like this. We just need to begin with discovery first, because then from discovery, we can actually put together a proposal. It becomes a lot more straightforward now to think about. So what services can I provide to this client to actually help them? And there the proposal starts to come together. We begin to properly scope out how are we going to help them. A lot of the time when we engage a client and they're paying us like some sort of monthly retainer. They start to ask for this, they start to ask for that, and we're losing track of actually, ‘What did they originally engage us for?’ 

Sometimes the clients don't even know. They're not even fully aware of what you could possibly offer them doing the discovery, then going to the proposal and scoping it out, properly, lays the groundwork. So when that proposal gets accepted and it leads toward production. It's a lot clearer with the team about what they have to do. Most importantly, it's coming off the back of a discovery meeting and accepting the proposal. And we're trying to collect all the information we can before actually beginning that. 

So, ‘How this actually helps you get more business?’ In our firm encounter every day, we have hundreds of opportunities to produce more business. It's really easy to think. ‘Maybe I need another Facebook ad. Maybe I need to go create another landing page or make another ebook or something,’ but there is already so much business within our own firms that if we can train our client managers and the rest of our team, just a simple process to follow, we might just be able to capture more business from them. 

Tim Causbrook: It comes from a good place from what I've seen within my own firm and other firms' client managers. So in terms of servicing the client, they think they put the client's needs first and foremost, before thinking about how we're running a business and whether we should be charging for it. 

There are obviously different kinds of areas like ways that we leave money on the table, we can leave money on the table by doing the same thing year in, year out and not charging for it. Trust distribution minutes, for example. One example is my own firm. I'm looking, ‘Do we actually charge for that doing a payment plan or an extension? Do we charge for that? Or do we just do that for free?’ There are a lot of things where you might be leaving money on the table, cause you're just not charging for every service that you're offering. But I'm sure that we can look at that. That's why you should have. But I like to key on the other one that comes to mind, which is clients calling up and asking for ad hoc ad hoc services and whether you can deal with the proposal part of it. 

So for that ad hoc type of work existing clients who are used to maybe getting one proposal from us every year or every couple of years, ‘How do we go from that with an existing client?’ It calls up for ad hoc work too in your own firm and your own experience to kind of train the client. That every time they ask us to do an ad hoc job, ‘We're going to price that,’ and actually say, ‘You need to pay us for that in addition to what you normally do.’ How did you kind of overcome that hurdle, both with your staff and with the clients? 

Thomas Sphabmixay: Coming back to the 80-20 rule. ‘How we can actually help ourselves approach this proposal stage? How can you be a better proposal-making firm?’ It starts with having as much as you can a clear menu of services. If you're not clear about your own menu of services, then surely your staff aren't and surely your clients wouldn't be okay. Having a clear menu of services gives the opportunity for your staff to be able to recognize, ‘Oh, that's a trust distribution situation.’ ‘Oh, that's an accountant's letter situation.’ If the menu of services isn't there, if attention isn't paid to the menu of services, yet if it hasn't been agreed upon what the menu of services is, it's really hard for anybody in the firm to know what they should be selling. It's like going into a restaurant and then there's no menu. Like, ‘How does anyone make an order?’ 

So starting with the menu of services is the key. It just allows us to be able to account, to give us the opportunity to be proactive. Now that's obviously that's 80%. That's what you can account for. In a true ad hoc situation where it's 20%. There's no menu of services for it. You're not even sure what you need to do for the client. You're not going to show how you can help them. They just said they seem to be going through some sort of situation and now they're in front of your eyes. That's sitting in front of you and they need help. It's okay to be able to draw up a proposal that just charges by the hour or if you want me to go and talk with your lawyer about this loan thing, and I'm not sure how I am all right. let's not dwell on trying to make a perfect proposal and go back to my team and figure out the perfect menu of services for this. Maybe we can just put together an alley build proposal, just have that open up and we'll just pump it with a timesheet and then see how that goes. As long as that's communicated to the client, that's how it's going to be charged and their expectations and management that's okay. 

I just want to stress though, in those ad hoc situations require triple the amount of leadership. Then when you have actually had that menu of services pre-made already. Any time an exceptional situation occurs or an ad hoc situation occurs, you might have figured out that part of the equation about how to charge them, which is by the hour. If it's truly outside of the skill and capabilities of your phone, but you still chose to take that on. It's something that the senior client needs to be paying close attention to because those ones get that they have no structure. It can be totally random. But where ideally, we want to be having an extraordinary system. So it's on us. The owners actually come up with a menu of services. It's on us to be able to train them on what we can provide. 

Tim Causbrook: Yeah. I think that's really key. There's a lot of wisdom in that you need the menu of services to deal with making proposals, which is really helpful. 

One example that comes to mind, I'd love to find out if this is common to the firms is we had a client manager in the past who a client emailed asking him to do something. He stayed back really late at night, did a job for the client, and then tried to charge the client for it. And they said, ‘Oh, I was just thinking out loud. I didn't really want to go ahead with that.’ If anyone's had that happen before I spoke with Ed about that, and he said, it's relatively common. That's why I'm keen to hear other people's experiences. And one way of dealing with that is it's Ed calls a thought bubble. The client has a thought bubble art, and they're kind of just workshopping something out loud. It's very, very reactive to then go and just stop going into work. I think what we've found with us is that having a proposal and saying, ‘Actually, here's how much it's going to cost roughly for us to do that. Do you want us to go ahead?’ It just draws a line in the sand and the client has to actively commit. It's not enough for them to just the cuff email verbally say, ‘I'd like to look into this,’ and then you go and do all the work and then try to charge afterward.

I guess before we look at kind of that I put some of the things that we were discussing just then in the chat. So in the Wize vault, just areas of Video 15.8, I believe have the menu of services. There's also a menu of services. I think it's the marketing or sales tab in the Wize hub. If you've already got your Wize hub going. 

‘What if they need more help or services, but are not wanting to pay due to budget restraints?’ That's a tough one. I know what Ed said to do in that situation. I'm interested to hear if Thomas, Kristy, or anyone else has any advice on that as well. 

For Ed, I asked him about this during the COVID pandemic in Australia, where the stimulus packaging was coming out. ‘Hey, he's pretty good about this.’ What he'll do is he'll have a conversation with the client and, and you gotta have that leadership that kind of Kristy with talking about that maturity, to be able to have this kind of a conversation with a client and say, ‘Look, we know you really need your help. You need our help. We know you can't pass as much as you usually would. Are you okay if we do this job completely offshore?’ He'll say, ‘Can we put you on a payment plan over a year?’ Or, he'll string it out as much as they can so we can still help those clients, but it's supposed to be a win-win. So he won't do the work and we would not recommend this ever. You wouldn't do the work for free, or you wouldn't say, ‘Yeah, pay me when you can.’ You've got to have some kind of deal upfront. It's a tough one. I think logistics for designers. 

I think you've got to think about this in terms of what kind of client it is. If it's an A-class client that's just been going through a rough patch. That's going to be temporary. That might be a different conversation than if it was a brand new client. For a brand new client, it's easy for me to turn away a brand new client or a recently engaged client who can't afford to pay us because ‘What's the cost for us not to work for them? Do you want me?’ There's no big tangible cost there because they can't afford to pay. So I'm not missing out on anything by turning them away. But I think I'm keen to hear Thomas. Kristy, or anyone else on how you deal with this issue? 

Thomas Sphabmixay: I mean, like in most cases wouldn't do it, but like you don't want to turn away business. We have to try and find options. It's like, if they can't pay a hundred percent upfront, we work out, we work out all sorts of things. Maybe pay a 50% deposit. Now pay the rest on completion. Just making sure that that's in the contract. We use Practice Ignition for that. Like Tim mentioned breaking up into installments over 12 months. There are so many options. There are facilities out there where they can fund that invoice for you. Then a third-party finance company would go and collect installments from that client themselves. 

So really it's just if their budget is so truly constrained, it's just seen as, ‘Okay, what can they work with then month to month? What can they pay for? How long would it take to actually pay off?’ You just want to avoid having too many debtors, right? You just don't want so much of your money locked up in here because you're investing your staff. Our staff is the product. If we're giving it away for free and we're not getting paid for it. That's going to cause a lot of issues. So we just want to be careful there.

Tim Causbrook: I think there's a temptation. If you need more work, there's a temptation. And if you've caught any of your staff on at a hundred percent capacity, the temptation all let's just do it. But I think as Thomas said, ‘You've got to make sure it makes financial sense for your business to actually engage it.’

I do think there's a difference between an A-grade client who is going through a momentary rough spot. We would treat them differently like a relatively new client who was a tire kicker.

Kristy Fairbairn: On that, there's also another opportunity that if the client is struggling to see the value, but they can't afford the service, they will say they can't afford it. The great thing is we can tell because we look at their financials and if you make that decision that actually they can, they just don't understand the contribution you can make to their business. You could offer them to do one month free of that service, possibly. If it's something that can be added on. And then at the end of it, they can decide if they want to downgrade back to their existing model, or they want to start that upgrade and then pay. 

Tim Causbrook: Give them a taste of it. Like what it's actually worth to them. 

It's a tough one. Some clients are just talking tickets and they just don't see the value in things. And they just want you to do everything for free. And if they run their own SMA, you can kind of go back to my old you. ‘Would you do that though?’ If they're probably really not a good client to have one. Now that's part that helps.

Question: ‘You said to create a process of add-on services opportunities at the end of jobs at three. Any recommendation? What can the team say? Does the client need one fries with that?’ 

Yeah, that's kind of probably the opposite of ad hoc, which is kind of upselling and brings me quite nicely as a segue to our second question that we want to look out today. And that is, this one was directed to me, to me, but I'd love to hear it. You know, Kristy’s thoughts, Thomas' thoughts share my experience at corpsmen associates on how we ensure clients are educated on all of our services that we offer and that they're provided with opportunities to engage us on their services. And I think that's kind of what you're getting at there.

This is a different kind of problem. It's the opposite of ad hoc. We might have a client who comes up to us and says, ‘I'm really not happy with my bookkeeper. Can you recommend a good bookkeeper to me?’ And that happened in large two months ago. And we said, ‘Well, we do bookkeeping,’ and they just had no idea. And that's more common than you'd believe. I'd love to hear Thomas or Kristy, have you got, how you had that issue in your firm. Have you got any wisdom to share on that or I'm putting it on the spot a bit? 

Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah, look, definitely, it does happen. So just for those of you who haven't met me before, I own a bookkeeping business. So we don't do tax work at this stage, but it definitely does happen. 

The great thing about being in your client's books on a regular basis is that you can see the growth of their business as they have changed. And you can decide if you should be offering an additional service to them as well, to support them. A lot of businesses when they've got the right team, we'll go through some expansion and growth or they might have staffing changes. Now I have a firm that we're working with that is going through a lot of change and they need more support, to begin with. So we've offered that straightaway and been proactive. So it's just having a look. I think it's a really great opportunity Clayton to assess as you're doing work on a regular basis, ‘What could you add? What value could you add and be proactive?’ 

Tim Causbrook: That's great. 

In the spirit of systematizing, it causes that Kristy that's kind of the golden idea, where the client managers just so keyed into the client and their needs that they are on it. Obviously, we strive for that's their job, but in the spirit of systematizing it as well, there are a couple of things that you can do to kind of try to make sure stuff doesn't slip through the cracks or to make sure you're really monetizing it. 

One of them is to send out a newsletter. We think about marketing in terms of external clients and even today's topic of production, proposal, and discovery in terms of new clients. But as Thomas said before, there's so much gold in our own firms that we haven't mined yet. And it's the lowest-hanging fruit. It doesn't cost us anything extra to get them. They already paid clients. So it's likely they'll happily take on more of our services as long as they're happy with us.

I think marketing to existing clients is something we don't think of. There are several ways of doing it. We're trialing out in inquiries, we're going associates having like a monthly newsletter that sparking one of the services to our client base, that they might not be aware of that we offer. And if you don't want to get too spammy about it, but I was talking about this with you every other day and he said, other firms are talking to your clients. I mean bookkeeping Kristy, you've got a huge advantage in bookkeeping, but we might only talk to some of our clients, even our bigger ones a couple of times a year. Then said, other firms including possibly he's got so many on his mailing list are talking to our clients. And so he said, ‘You don't want to be spammy, but, but a monthly check-in email letting them know about changes to tax law.’ 

For instance, there are a lot of those happening in Australia at the moment or services that you offer, even if they don't currently need bookkeeping, they might be starting in SMA in the new year. Even if they don't have a trust for a super fund yet they might be owning more and not be thinking about doing that. And so marketing is a long runway. You're not just marketing to clients who need your services. Now you're marketing to clients who you hope will grow into needing more of your services and the first person they think of isn't your opponent. It's you. 

There are fewer spammy ways of doing it than sending out newsletters to emails. One that Brenton's discussed with the Wize team, which is a really neat idea is I can't remember what the tool is. Someone else might be able to remember, but there's a tool that a software company that puts stuff in the banner of your emails is that right? And you can change someone in the marketing team. I don't know, help me out here. And you can change what's in there whenever you want. 

Thomas Sphabmixay: I think It's called Black Pearl

Tim Causbrook: Is that one example? Every time your client sends, your staff sends out an email to the client. If you really want to be spoken about bookkeeping, you can put that in the banner of the email. So it's just trying to get in front of the clients as quickly as you can. Any of those new services that you offer or existing services, they might not know you offer. And then the sales part is when the client manager comes in and they'll say, ‘Hey, Kristy,’ or, ‘Hey Tim,’ or whoever it is, ‘I saw that you guys do bookkeeping now. That's great.’ It makes it easier for the client manager. All they have to do is just say, ‘Yup.’ And they go straight into this phase of discovery, proposal, and production. 

So in the spirit of systematizing, as much as possible, we'd encourage you to look at ways of talking to all your clients and letting them know that you do offer those things. 

Thomas Sphabmixay: I'll add something in something that we've been doing as well. So we actually credit. We credit, what we call a client master checklist in Karbon. So it's essentially the monetization sheet. But we treat it as going through each of these services to actually find out, does a client have a superfund. ‘Do we do the bookkeeping for the client? Do, do they have a trust? Do they have other family members? Did they have things outstanding on the ATO? Did they have passes outstanding?’ So we created a Karbon job template that we just want questions answered for in each one, as people are going through the work of these clients, says the tax returns or financial accounts for the year. We encourage the team that is working on that client to also be completing that checklist all right. So it's almost like additional work almost all right together with actually trying to finish the work at hand and what we encourage the team to do is to complete that and come up with recommendations that the client manager can take into the client approval meeting. 

So, we already have a chance to bring the client into a meeting to discuss and have them sign off on something. It'd be really great also to bring just a couple of additional agenda items that we've just taken the effort to go in and find out about. So it could be like some entity that we've totally forgotten about, but it's got like 10 years outstanding, but they might not trade with it. But it's still a charge of $50 new return of attending them is something. An exercise like this. It brings the whole team involved because it's very easy to do a monetization sheet. It's easy to have a giant Excel sheet, but then we never really act on it. If we bring the team in on it. And it becomes an activity where the team is treating it like a project to try to find some gems inside this client group, and then raise it to the client manager. That's a really nice habit and process to build as an ongoing thing. 

Tim Causbrook: Totally. And if you're not already, I'm doing a client net promoter score survey, I'd encourage you to do that. Again when you look at doing that for referrals. But if you think about the logic, if they give you a non or they're more likely to accept more services from you. If they give you a four or five, the loss and they're going to want is more services from you. And so if you're thinking one way of doing it systematically is what Thomas said to look at. Just every client. We recommend doing it at the start of the financial year, whenever that is in your geographic location. 

In addition to scheduling the current work that we're doing for the client, we actually try to do it at the same time to get it done with one big bulk for the year. Then really the low-hanging fruit of that, because you'll probably find almost every client will have some kind of service that you're not actually offering, that you could give for them. It can be overwhelming. Like Thomas said, you either do it when you do the work or you look at the low-hanging fruit thing, the 9 and 10 either doing the net promoter scores, just go for the nines and tens to start with. You'll find it's much easier to sell. This is really good. If you have an assistant client manager be a trainee. It's much easier for them to sell to a very, very happy legacy client, probably in some cases in a brand new one.

Kristy, do you have anything? Do you want to add to that?

Kristy Fairbairn: I think on the lower scores from clients, they potentially also need more service. They certainly need a senior approach. But perhaps the reason they're feeling dissatisfied is they want more from you because they need more help. So it's not a definite no or ‘Gosh, we've just got to love on them to get them up in the score?’ Have a look at it from a sales point of view,  ‘What do they need?’ 

Tim Causbrook: I love that. Yeah. That's a really, that's really good, 

How do you train your client managers on selling the sizzle versus giving a vice away for free? It's one thing for us to have this conversation internally, and I'm not a client manager. Thomas isn't a client manager either. We know not to do that, but Thomas and I, aren't at the cold face talking to clients every single day. Even if you are currently the client manager in your firm, I would assume in this Wize Mentoring you want to grow. And so part of growing, you will have to hire additional client managers as well. So it's kind of essential no matter where you are. 

It's really important that you get in the right mindset of training client managers, even if you don't need to at this stage on selling the sizzle. So I'd love to hear Thomas, Kristy, or anybody. I can do my own experience as well on how you do that, especially when you think that we're kind of handicapped in this industry because we're not natural salespeople. Thomas, maybe you can start us off. How have you gone about doing that? 

Thomas Sphabmixay: Yeah, it's just starting from like the ground-level client. It's easy for an owner to want to know. I shouldn't say it's easy, but an owner such as ourselves knows that we need to get a proposal and get paid for something before we do something. It’s because if we don't, we're not going to put food on the table. 

So we're quite driven to make sure that we're getting paid for things we're quite sensitive about that. But for our staff, it's a lot different where whether they a sale happens or not, they're going to get a paycheck. So there isn't really like this, ‘I can't feed my kids if I don't get this tax return a proposal except that with this client, I can't just do it for free for them.’ So the drive is a lot different. We have to create that drive in our companies. It's created by being able to set targets when we set a budget target. We want to do two things. We obviously want to beat the performance of last year, but we also want to incorporate a bit of budget growth into it. It's about explaining to the client managers that meeting the budget, it's more than just doing the existing work month to month, but we want to encourage you to be able to produce new business. 

So in meeting your budget, there's a proportion of it: existing fees and new fees. Let's say your budget is something like a hundred thousand a month. If 80,000 or 90,000 of that is existing fees from existing work, that's scheduled reminders have gone out. There really isn't much for a senior client manager to have to sell and to tell the person to bring their work in. But if there are 10 or 20,000 in new fees that they have to achieve, then it's about communicating that to them and translating it. It means that they have to get two or three new compliance clients a month. It's about breaking it down into targets so that they feel an urge. So I haven't even like told them how they should be doing it yet, but just having them have that urge is really important. 

People can sell in whichever way fits their style. Your style might be to bake people or a cake. That secures the engagement lens then. So be it. But people only go and do that if they feel the need to. When we create the need in our team to do so by hitting targets, that is one facet of it. The other facet is incentivizing it properly. So if we're achieving a hundred thousand dollar budget and we've planned in our P and L, that translates to say a 35% EBIT or 45% EBIT. It's in our bonus system that anything over say 25% EBIT, a proportion of that goes to bonuses. So again, if there's actually a need for a drive to actually achieve sales, client managers would now start to think in terms of, ‘I'm either leaving my bonus on the table or I'm going to grab it.’ 

But now when it actually comes to selling the sizzle and not giving away, giving it away for free. Selling the sizzle and not the sausage is a philosophy that we have in Wize. What we mean by this is that the client manager is not necessarily the most technical person on the team. They've been off the tools for so long that don't really get involved in processing the work. ‘So what do you do with this type of employee?’ The purpose now with the client is really to ask questions, understand the problems, and allow them to share a lot more than the client manager is talking about.

Where the key really here is it's part of the discovery. Having the client manager know that during this discovery post process. It's about understanding as much as we can. Seeking first to understand before being understood with this client, rather than just saying, ‘Okay, I heard you, this is what you need to do.’ We want to have them smell the sausage, not give it to them to eat. So the proposal hasn't been accepted yet. They can have it right after that. 

Tim Causbrook: So it comes just to summarize, it comes from listening to the clients really well and understanding what they need. On the sizzle, not the sausage it's everything else. It's the expectations. It's managing that. It's managing price, the value, and what Kristy said before that makes sure they actually value this. They see it as an aid to this. They might be driven by fear or it might be driven by the client and they might be asking you to do something. But yeah, that's helpful.

Do you have any advice as well, Kristy on this topic of trying to find a manager? 

Kristy Fairbairn: I think really nailing down that menu of services and even having an item on there for ad hoc. The hourly rate is far higher than your standard planned day-to-day rate. So, you've already got that. They're ready to pull on. It might be, you know, you're normally hourly, right? It’s $60 or $70 for basic work. But if it's ad hoc, it's $150 because it's unplanned, it's unscheduled. And it generally has a shorter timeframe on delivery.

So if you've got that there, it makes that conversation less icky and awkward. And also remember that you are delivering a service with businesses in a business-to-business relationship. There's an expectation to pay and don't be afraid of the conversation and just be really a matter of fact. Then you can help empower your client managers to realize that aren't need to be salespeople either. The information's there. It's all matter of fact, you've tried the clients ready for them. You've set them up in the proposal. These are what we feel will serve you, but we're always open to reviewing. And with there might be additional services or fewer services have that little conversation at the start and ensure that you live up to your word as well. Review the work regularly, and let them know that it's changed. And you want to add on these services or take these off because they're not utilizing them. Then you're continuing to build that muscle to not be afraid of the sales conversation. 

Tim Causbrook: Yeah. That's a great one to end on that. 

I think the client managers really need to want to grow. If they're over, I can never get this right. If they don't have enough capacity to manage the work, they're not going to want to grow. Do you know what I mean? If they're going to want less work, not more. So you want them to want the work and you've got the best way to now experiences with The Fab 5, showing them the doc, the budget each month, each week, whenever, however frequently you look at that. Make sure they know the services that you have on offer. Like Kristy said they don't have to be amazing salespeople. And they have to be able to listen, be able to be present for those conversations to take place, and have confidence. I think some of the things you were saying to send. Kristy in the background there, they've got to have the confidence that they can deliver what they're selling to the clients.

I know from some rates and conversations with firms, they haven't had the confidence that they could develop those services further just because they're so snowed under, or it might range outside of the expertise and they don't want to get pulled back into the business if there are already kind of out of it. That's great to finish on.

Reasons why sales is essential for your accounting firm
The 3-phase framework system of discovery, proposal, and production
Issue #1: Not charging for every service you do
Issue #2: Dealing with ad hoc services
Issue #3: No menu of services to offer
Issue #4: No ideal leadership structure
The importance of having a menu of services
Issue #5: Budget constraints
Issue #6: Needing more work
Issue #7: Upselling client services
Issue #8: Marketing the practice
The best time to give a client proposal
Issue #9: The irony of having low service rates
Tips for training client managers
The philosophy of selling the sizzle not the sausage
Basic work vs ad hoc pricing