In 2021, when the economy was at its toughest, I took 100 skeptical firms on a 30 day course to grow their revenue from the work they were already doing. In ‘Untapped’, I outline the exact journey they took. A crucial part of this was training them how to conduct a service renewal meeting. This agenda is bulletproof. Even if it’s a far cry from what you’re doing now, you can learn it and master it.
1) Arm Yourself
You need to turn-up fully armed and ready to rock. I’m not just talking about the obvious good-to-knows, like having a proposal draft ready to talk them through. You must have the right mindset.
It’s no good going into this thinking… this is going to be a difficult conversation, I’m dreading it… because guess what? If that’s what you think you’re going to get, there’s a good chance you will.
Take control of your self-talk. You’re in charge of your mind, not the other way around.
2) Positive Intentions
Starting and ending the meeting with a positive intention is so powerful.
It means that regardless of what happens during the meeting, it starts positively and ends positively.
A positive intention may be something like…
“We want to ensure we’re providing you with the very highest level of service and to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support you in the growth of your business and improving your personal financial situation.”
That is our genuine aim.
Starting with your own positive intention (or stealing mine) paves the way for you to talk about increasing fees, service level and additional services that fulfil that aim.
The framing section of the meeting is designed to dig deeper into the client’s challenges and needs, and its purpose is to frame up what you’re going to offer them next.
This is a simple technique, focussing on speed of implementation and action. The GLOSS Methodis an advanced consultative sales technique you might prefer to use.
There are 4 parts to the framing phase:
1. What’s working well?
2. What frustrations do you have?
3. Is there anything more we can be doing for you?
4. Recap (Very Important) - “So what I’ve heard is…”
4) Review Proposal
You now need to be in a position, DURING THE MEETING, to take them through the proposal, line by line.
This is key.
You need the ability to…
- Take them through this line by line
- Build up the proposal with them
- Get agreement at every step
- Present the fees
By the time you get to the end of that process, there is no confusion. Then, all that’s left to do is to present their new monthly fee.
This is the moment you’re dreading, because you’re scared of what will follow, especially if there is a huge hike in fees.
But you need to deal with their questions now, while you have their time and their focus. Take them through the proposal, (ideally with a tool like GoProposal), get agreement at every step, present the fees, and then… SHUT THE HELL UP!!!
It’s ok if they go quiet. They’re just processing what you’ve shown them and might need time to think.
My best advice, so that you don’t ruin this step, is to sing a song in your head. Make sure it’s one you know all the lyrics too.
5) Handle Questions
Out of all the questions you could be asked, there’s only one you’re worried about, which is, “Why have my fees gone up?”
So let’s focus on that one.
There is only one answer to this question and it’s short…
Q. Why have my fees gone up?
A. It’s a combination of factors, but mainly it’s to enable us to keep giving you the high level of service you want from us.
There may be more you’d like to elaborate on…
A. It’s a combination of factors, but mainly it’s to enable us to keep giving you the high level of service you want from us. Specifically [choose the correct combination of these]…
- We haven’t reviewed your fees recently - This will be more regular moving forward.
- The service level has increased - give examples, such as more members of staff on payroll.
- You have additional services - explain which ones.
- Your revenue has increased - This means more emails, queries, and phone calls and we don’t want you hit with any surprise bills.
- The complexity and regulatory requirements have increased, which means more work on our part and an increased risk - explain what.
- We have additional staff - explain benefits, such as faster turnarounds, quicker responses and a higher level of expertise.
- We’d priced some services too low - and we can’t keep delivering at that rate. We respect our relationship too much.
- Inflation - some services have increased in line with inflation.
When people ask you why their fees have gone up, it’s not a criticism; it’s a legitimate question that needs legitimate answers.
Now you’ve taken them through the proposal, you’ve had agreement at every step, you presented the fees, you shut the hell up, they asked you why their fees had gone up, you explained why, now what?
There’s likely to be one of four responses:
- That’s fine [80%]
Most of your clients will just accept it and move on.
That’s far more boring than you expected, isn’t it?
- I’d been waiting for you to do this and was surprised you hadn’t done it sooner [4%]
This is the best response you’ll get from about 4% of your clients.
- I didn’t really want to spend any more [15%]
This will be the second most common response.
Don’t stress this. How many times have you looked at something you wanted and thought that you didn’t want to spend that much… but bought it anyway?
- There’s no way I’m paying any more [1%]
This is the one response you’re most afraid of.
It’s probably safe to say that the entire reason you haven’t increased your fees before now, is because of this very unlikely response you’ve dreaded.
But clients likely to respond like this, are the biggest time wasting, energy zapping clients, who don’t value you, don’t pay you enough, and cost you money to serve.
Stand your ground.
Remember, you’re saying “no” to this client so you can say “yes” to your other clients, or “yes” to spending more time doing the things you love with the people you love.
6) Agree the Outcomes and Restate Positive Intentions
At the end of this meeting, we want to agree the outcome.
Ideally, they’re going to accept the new proposal during that meeting, but if they want time to think, commit to a follow-up date in the diary.
End it with a positive intention as their final reminder of why we’ve had this discussion and why they’re going to be paying you more money.
“So just to remind you, our goal is to ensure we’re providing you with the very highest level of service and to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to support you in the growth of your business and improving your personal financial situation. Thank you for allowing us to present a proposal that we feel will best help us achieve that.”
And that is it. That’s how we wrap up the service review meeting.
Remember, you don’t have to change the economy, your clients, your location, your qualifications or your competition to achieve exponential growth… you simply have to change how you see, what you already have.