How to have client meetings that count

If you want to have client meetings that count, you have to do more than just hope for the best. As the saying goes, Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance – and this means more than just having their financial information to hand.

When you use your business advisory skills and look at the bigger picture, you increase the chances of getting a great result. AVN Practice Growth Expert and coach Andrea Higginbottom has coached many accountants in the art of holding effective meetings.

Here are Andrea’s tips for client meetings that count:

  1. Use all the tools you have to hand to generate ideas for the business. If you’re an AVN member, use the Benchmark, SSTW and OnTrack software to spot opportunities for discussion.
  2. Run a SWOT analysis to see what factors could affect the business.
  3. Talk to your team. They’ll have a good idea of what’s happening in the business apart from the information that shows up in the accounts. So find out what they’ve learned from ‘reading between the lines.’
  4. Find out as much as you can about the business sector. What are the issues in that industry? The more informed you are, the better you can advise your client.
  5. Put all of this information together and look at what the client needs, not just what they want.
  6. Once you know what you want to talk about, create a meeting agenda. Write it down so the discussion points are crystal clear.
  7. Let the client do the talking. They want to be heard and your role is to listen. This way, you’ll find out what really matters to them.
  8. Don’t launch into a sales pitch for your services. When you know what they need, you can show them how you can help. Focus on the end result – what it does for them – not just e.g. payroll.
  9. Have confidence, both in yourself and your client. Patronising your client and feeling superior will not get good results; neither will under-valuing yourself. Have the conversation as equals.
  10. Plan how you will close the meeting; don’t let it just fizzle out. Thank them for their time; tell them you’ve enjoyed it; summarise what you’ve discussed; explain what you will do next.
  11. Follow up. If you’ve sent them what you promised but you haven’t heard anything back, pick up the phone. Ask what’ stopping them progressing. Even if it’s bad news and they don’t want to engage you, it’s better to know rather than keep hoping.

Andrea explains more about this topic in a webinar on the AVN Know How Hub – How to have meaningful meetings with clients. If you haven’t subscribed already, you can get access for 30 days for as little as £1 – find out more at