I was reading the book Dare to Lead by Brene Brown when I came across this statement written in her book. Although it was in the context of understanding your co-workers and people that report to you at work, it really made me think about my business development efforts for my company and how this concept can be used to help determine if a prospect is the right client for my firm.
Whenever I have a prospect or a referral from someone in my network, I (like many of you) have a client verification checklist that I read through in my exploratory discussions with the individual. Most of the questions are pretty straight-forward: how many employees do you have? what is your revenue over the past three years? what is your general ledger package?, etc. The focus is on the core finance policies and procedures that the company follows. If you ask 10 fractional CFOs and financial consultants in my field if they would ask a prospect these questions, I would bet that all 10 would. It helps the consultant understand how the current finance function is structured and, more importantly, what is missing that needs to be addressed in the proposal that will ultimately follow. Moreover, it is a mechanical approach that yields potential areas of improvement for the prospect’s company and a process improvement map for me and my team.
The only issue with these black/white questions is that it doesn’t address what makes this company or the owner tick.
These questions doesn’t necessarily bring to light what the core values and objectives of the company’s owner and/or the management team are. It doesn’t provide an insight as to why the company was founded or what played the greatest factor in him/her quitting her corporate job to start this new venture.
These answers are important, so we must ask the open-ended questions too:
When working with a company as a fractional CFO, the proposal needs to be influenced by both facts/figures and overarching culture/goals. Knowing these answers will help me and my team approach our clients in order to both understand if the prospect fits well in your organization’s strengths in customer service as well as determine if the owner/management team are people that you want to work with.
Take-away: Evaluating prospects is an art, not a science. It is important to implement qualitative as well as quantitative factors to determine if your prospect will one day become a referrable client. To see if you would be a good client of AcceleratingCFO’s reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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