Founded in 1994 in Melbourne, Australia by Dr Chris Mason, Mindshop has grown to become one of the world’s leading providers of support solutions to business advisors and leaders. Mindshop’s goal is to simplify the complex in business and assist people achieve success.
If you missed the first Mindshop advisor training round of 2018 we’ve put together some highlights to give you a taste of the practical information and insights shared at the events around the globe.
James Mason, Managing Director of Mindshop, was joined by long-standing Mindshop advisor Rod Willers in Australia and New Zealand, with Dr Chris Mason presenting in the UK and US on the topic ‘Value Creating Growth’.
Rod shared insights from years of experience as a partner in the largest professional service firms in Australia and from building and operating his own consulting business.
Insight 1: Mind the performance gap
Mindshop recently surveyed over 160 business leaders and advisors, the results highlighted the need for continuous capability improvement to build business success, and emphasised that capability must be supplemented with ten key high-performance habits to bridge the gap to success. Key findings from the report include:
Advisors are focused on refining their business models in 2018, top of the ‘skills or capabilities required’ list for 13% of respondents.
Strategic planning days are most likely to be offered as a service by advisors in 2018.
Finding time or capacity is in the biggest concern for advisors in 2018.
For more insights from the survey and a list of capabilities and high performance habits needed by business advisors, download the full report here.
Insight 2: Get alignment in your business model
The creation of an advisory business model that fits your purpose and vision is key to ensure your business is sustainable in the long term. Power comes through alignment of your purpose with your sustainable competitive advantage, which is then expressed in your business model and marketing materials.
Insight 3: Shift to implementation and execution
‘Don’t pay me for the plan, pay me for the implementation’
Russell Cummings, Mindshop advisor.
Rod outlined the seven key success factors that power great implementations:
Use frameworks to help the team develop and execute the strategy (Now-Where-How, One Page Plan for example)
Match the level, language and approach of the business
Meet regularly to assess progress
Have a tailored focus
Ensure your approach is culturally aligned to the business
Watch for having a scope that’s too broad, saturating the organisation with overly complex projects and not adapting as the situation changes
Have a support plan to any implementation project to ensure change success.
And remember, implementation is a marathon, not a sprint.
Insight 4: Five steps to lifting value with potential customers
Display your value to create growth when having preliminary discussions with clients by following these steps:
Frame – discuss your unique value proposition, timing and focus (let the client dictate the focus), have authentic war stories at the ready
Questions – Delve into the business, asking about their vision, goals and consequences of failure, what support and resources are needed to overcome barriers?
Listen – focus on client’s priorities, not your agenda, watch energy levels, demonstrate you genuinely care
Use a process or tool – for example Now-Where-How or Porter’s Competitive Strategy framework to dig deeper and provide structure
Next steps – don’t leave without next steps being outlined, always summarise in a One Page Plan, post everything in your support system.
Insight 5: Challenge the leaders you work with Challenge the commitment of your clients’ leaders to change by using a model such as Mindshop Change Success. Ensure organisations are ready for change by exploring:
leadership support for the project
the need for change
‘what’s in it for me’
the change process and
the confidence of the organisation to successfully implement the change project.
Insight 6: Use activity mapping
An activity map is a strategy tool to un-pack an organisation’s competitive advantage as to how it competes for profit, it connects elements of the market-facing value proposition to the company’s assets, capabilities and values. It helps map out what a company does and doesn’t do which makes it unique.
Use it to show how every function contributes to the achievement of strategy, for greater alignment across different offices and to prioritise where to focus your energies to drive improvements in the value proposition.
Insight 7: Capability will drive increased referrals
Referrals should be a key part of your lead generation program. To maximise the effectiveness of your referral program, you should:
Do good work!
Ask for the referral
Foster advocate behaviour and always close the loop
Target influential and active referrers
Ask yourself some hard questions if it’s not working for you
I hope you take away some pointers from these highlights, the next major Mindshop event round is in May, when our conferences take place in the Gold Coast, London and Denver. I look forward to sharing more highlights with you then!
Mindshop surveyed over 10 business leaders and advisors in 9 countries providing valuable insights to highlight the ten capabilities and ten high performance habits needed for business advisory success in 2018.
Visit the websites of most accounting firms, coaches or consultants and often the service line ‘Business Advisory’ or more broadly just ‘Advisory’ will appear. This ‘catch-all’ definition often causes confusion on many fronts – to customers, prospects and importantly, team members and begs some questions:
What is advisory or business advisory?
What advisory services should we be offering?
What process should be used to assist clients grow their business and improve profitability?
Can all our team members deliver these services, and more importantly should they be delivering these services?
How long will it take to build the capability to deliver advisory services?
How much can we leverage these services? What can be scaled?
What would our clients value and where do they need assistance?
In essence, business advisory shouldn’t be confused with other types of advisory such as wealth, compliance, or preparing a business for sale. Business advisory is supporting clients improve the growth, profit and people through insights, problem solving, strategy and implementation support.
To simplify the complexity in this discussion, I’ve attempted to classify business advisory into five phases, describing what services can be delivered, the skills needed to deliver these services, the typical roles of the advisors delivering them and the tools to help an advisor in the delivery process. These phases are not intended to be a journey or progression, some will decide that they are best suited to phase one or two and will only focus there, while others will evolve their capabilities to deliver the more complex, but highly valuable offerings outlined in phase five. There is no right or wrong.
Phase One: Data – any team member with basic business acumen can provide valuable facts and figures to a client about their business and industry. Information can be gathered from client questionnaires, discussions, diagnostic tools and sharing independent papers and reports.
Phase Two: Insights – A deeper understanding of the data and information gathered in phase one can generate valuable information for a client. A ‘rising star’ in your firm is an ideal candidate to deliver services in this phase, a person who is inquisitive about business, has a moderate level of business acumen, and is confident having challenging client conversations. Business performance dashboards, ‘what-if’ analysis and surveys can be used to reveal these insights highlighting the ‘levers’ to pull in a business to drive change. Valuable discussions about these insights can follow on a regular basis.
Phase Three: Problem Solving – Advisors with problem solving skills can guide and advise on minor issues or opportunities impacting a business, adding significant value to a client’s business. Skills and attributes required for problem solving include the ability to control a meeting effectively, a high level of business acumen, ability to structure conversations with specific business tools that lead to action and confidence in holding challenging conversations.
Phase Four: Strategy – A strategic senior advisor with good facilitation skills, a high level of proficiency in strategic planning, open to change and a self-starter will be able to deliver strategic planning services to clients. Strategic advisors can tackle major issues or opportunities in workshops or strategic planning sessions to provide focus and clear actions to drive a business forward.
Phase Five: Implementation – Ongoing guidance and support for the successful implementation of strategies within an organisation requires the superior skills of an experienced facilitator able to address complex issues, and who is unconsciously competent in a broad range of tools and processes. Advisors displaying capability, energy and agility can deliver business advisory service offerings such as monthly or quarterly implementation support, project team implementation, in-depth coaching with the CEO or team members and annual support programs.
It’s clear when you break business advisory into these five phases that the skills and attributes needed for success and client value at each phase are understandably very different.
As you move further up the phases many things increase, such as the:
capabilities required to successfully deliver the service
However, as you move up the phases, a few things also decrease such as the:
ability to leverage or scale the service
percentage of team members with the acumen or experience to deliver them
Advisors need to reflect:
on the phase(s) in which they want to deliver services
on their current capability in each phase
on their ideal future position to continue to attract and retain the right calibre of customers
who within the firm should be delivering the services at each phase (if in a larger firm)
Building new advisory capabilities regularly provides a ‘ticket to the game’ for advisors in any phase, but does not automatically guarantee success. In parallel with learning new capabilities, advisors embracing high performance habits will boost their probability of business advisory success.
To tease out the capabilities and high performance habits needed for success, Mindshop recently conducted a global business advisor survey. The research found ten capabilities plus ten high performance habits needed to bridge the gap to success. I will describe each capability in more depth in a later article but if you would like to skip ahead read the full report, click here.
The capabilities identified for business advisory success were:
Clear business advisory model
Ability to convert
Solving any issue
Implementation & coaching
Technology early adoption
In addition, high-performance habits are also needed:
Strategic mental models
Empowers great teams
Intuitive decision maker
Self-aware and authentic
Life-long learning mindset
Adaptable and agile
No matter in which business advisory phase you’re focused, there is no shortcut to success, as customers and their industry moves faster, advisors will need to keep pace. In the words of Mindshop’s founder Dr. Chris Mason, “If your education is finished, you’re finished.’
Mindshop is pleased to announce JoAnn Labbie as our new North American Regional Manager.
JoAnn is based in Georgia, USA and her role will be to guide Mindshop’s continued growth in North America
providing business advisory support tools, coaching and training to accounting firms and independent advisors.
JoAnn will also be supporting the success of existing North American Mindshop advisors as they implement advisory services in their local markets.
JoAnn has had 25+ years in various learning and development roles in the accounting industry and recently left a role with a leading global professional services network where she was Vice President of Professional Development to pursue a career as an independent advisor.
Mindshop’s Managing Director, James Mason said “Hearing of JoAnn’s shift in career it seemed a great win-win for Mindshop and our strategic partners to engage JoAnn for a portion of her available time to assist Mindshop with its growth objectives in North America.”
JoAnn commenced with Mindshop on February 1, 2018 and can be contacted by Mindshop advisors, prospective firms and strategic partners via her email: email@example.com
We’ve recently seen increasing numbers of Mindshop Business Leaders achieve Accredited Mindshop Leader (AMSL) status, with 68% of our online course completions in October being by users rather than advisors, highlighting the need for advisors to allocate time to hone their skills and capabilities to stay ahead of the game.
Since August, Mindshop has seen a 100% increase in Business Leaders achieving the AMSL status including members of Jason Langford-Brown’s (UK) Glide group, Helmut Beck’s (GER) TGS group and Mike Boyle’s (AUS) group – Crazy Domains.
With three Business Leader Groups, Michael Burke commented recently on why it’s important to keep up to date:
‘The business world is changing rapidly and business leaders are looking for advisors who are up to date, not just with tools and methodologies but also latest real-world examples. They want advisors at the cutting edge of their fields and who will challenge ‘old thinking’. Chances are most businesses have heard the old stuff. The challenger business advisor will provoke thinking because they are ahead of the pack.’
Just in time learning is the key for advisors to remain agile and stay ahead of business leaders’ requirements. Face to face training has an 8-10% retention rate versus 25-60% for e-learning. The key being that you can learn when and where you need it in response to real client requirements.
What should advisors do next?
Assess your capability gaps and formulate a learning pathway
Set aside time in your diary on a weekly basis and commit to completing key Mindshop Online training courses
Once you’ve completed a course, use your coach to support and guide you, keeping you accountable to cement your new skills by applying them in real-life situations.
Use Mindshop Mobile to rapidly access tools for current issues
Scan through past Mindshop ‘How to’ webinar recordings
On any given day someone will have a problem that you can fix, but may not be in the right frame of mind to engage with you. Regularly remind prospects you exist so they think of you when ready with a contact program. Regular, relevant communication is key to converting prospects and growing your existing client base.
What do I mean by a contact program? It’s an action plan to move a prospect through the sales cycle or build customer lifetime value – extending tenure or increasing spend. Any number of activities can be classified as a contact – an email, invitation to an event, or just a coffee, if you need inspiration I’ve included some ideas below.
Whatever the method, quality is the key and I’m talking here about quality communications and quality contacts. It’s pointless to have a huge database of contacts either not willing or able to buy from you. Nor is it worthwhile keeping in contact with prospects or clients who are not a good ‘fit’ for your firm. Here are some tips for building a quality contact program:
Have a clear understanding of your target market and what defines the ‘right’ client for you – essential so you don’t waste time.
Ensure you have a clear set of messages tailored to key segments in your target market (large, medium, small businesses, industry types, owners, however you choose to segment your database.)
The foundations of your marketing strategy need to be in place before you start reaching out, a clear service offering, website, marketing automation or customer relationship management system, backed by a team to support the marketing process. Don’t overengineer it, but ensure that you have the ‘basics’ in place.
Whatever your key message, it should be authentic, memorable and unique, backed with clear evidence of how you are going to make a difference. If you can, make it personal.
Be patient, a quality contact program takes time.
Think about why you are communicating and what you want the prospect or client to do as a result i.e. have a clear call to action.
Measure and adjust your approach based on the results, how many conversions resulted from an activity? Did you move a prospect along the sales cycle? Did you upsell an existing client? Make sure you do more of what works and stop wasting time of what doesn’t.
If you are using a database, it should be accurate, segmented, spam compliant and able to generate reports.
Here are some contact ideas that have worked for us:
Buy a book (that you have read) and write inside the cover and reference a page. The contact will think of you every time they glance at the bookshelf.
Whether social or commercial, sending out invitations, reminders and follow ups to events is great excuse to keep in contact.
Invite contacts to a webinar, if they don’t attend you can still share the content with them later.
Create a short video on a relevant topic.
Email contacts about an opportunity or prospective client for them.
Share an article, blog or information about best practise or client success stories.
Speak at association or industry events.
Ask for a ‘research meeting’ with a leader in a field to discuss trends and issues, even if this doesn’t lead to a direct sale, chances are you’ll get information or even referrals.
Don’t forget to convert…
When our call to action results in an enquiry, we send a personalised email, tracked by our CRM detailing our service offerings with an offer of a 20- minute discussion about the prospects’ objectives.
After the call, we invite prospects to our training days so they can see us ‘in action’ and provide personal tours of the online system. We may also discuss another clients’ success. At the end of the day, don’t forget to ask for a signature on your contract!
In summary the key tenets of contact program success for us are:
A great foundation of targeted, authentic messaging.
Marketing basics in place.
Select the right contact methods that work for you.
Measure what works, and what doesn’t.
Follow up, convert and close (or upsell if an existing client).
Mindshop member organisation, Randall & Payne took out the Best Client Project of the Year award on October 13, 2017 at this year’s British Accountancy Awards. Over 750 guests from practices across the UK gathered at The London Hilton, Park Lane to celebrate excellence in Accountancy and Financial Management.
Based in Gloucestershire UK, Randall & Payne’s win was in part due to the use of Mindshop advisory tools, technology and support.
The client, WHC Hire Services Ltd turned to Randall & Payne’s business advisory team to develop a strategic plan that would drive significant, profitable and sustainable growth. The team at Randall & Payne developed a three-year vision, key strategies and one-page plan and leveraged Mindshop Online to ensure the plan became a reality.
Mindshop’s business advisory tools and resources assisted the Randall & Payne team in the delivery of a great outcome for the client in a flexible, transparent and cost-effective way, including:
The client’s general manager has access to Mindshop Online,
Vision and strategies for the client were all developed using the Mindshop advisory toolkit,
Core management team were trained on key Mindshop tools, and
Actions from monthly meetings all driven by Mindshop’s One Page Plan process.
For the client, the results were significant, over the three years the business has more than doubled turnover because of implementing all the strategies. The judges were particularly impressed by the way Randall & Payne leveraged their trusted advisor status to provide specialist services to help the client, delivering exceptional value whilst generating additional fees for the firm.
In summary, the project was a great example of leveraging the Mindshop tools and methodologies to achieve a fantastic outcome for the client and the firm. Well done to Will Abbott and the team at Randall & Payne for a great win and all the hard work invested embedding these skills into their firm’s advisory offering.
Will Abbott and Ollie Newbold, Partners at Randall & Payne celebrate their win.
The ability to adapt to any client need and respond appropriately is a key capability for a successful advisor, promoting customer loyalty and increasing engagement value. I’ve seen for many years that the most successful advisors facilitate effective change rather than simply consult, using their agility to deal with both short and long-term client needs. With agility becoming the new norm, advisors are no longer going to be able to rely on a scripted approach but will have to pivot as the circumstances dictate.
Agility may be one of the latest buzz words, but it’s with good reason. The benefits of organisational agility are clear, seventy percent of agile companies rank in the top quartile of organisational health according to the McKinsey & Company article ‘Why agility pays?’ which outlines the ten management practices that differentiate the most agile companies (which I think could just as easily translate to successful advisors):
Top down innovation
Capturing external ideas
But the question is, can an advisor be too agile? After all, every client engagement is different.
For example, a micro business may be able to move quickly, responding to opportunities and acting on changing circumstances, whereas a larger organisation may be change-fatigued, cash poor with conservative leaders and a bureaucratic infrastructure.
As an advisor, you need to have more than one speed to accommodate these differences. Flat out like a ‘bull in a china shop’ trying to implement too many initiatives at once may quickly burn a change-resistant or stressed client and lose you the business. I’ve seen numerous examples of where an enthusiastic advisor has gone in too hard and burnt out a client struggling to cope with the day to day running of a business and unable to deal with high rates of change.
Successful advisors find a balance, using their emotional intelligence to understand when a client is losing interest or becoming anxious and adjusting their intensity accordingly. The more emotionally connected we are with clients and ourselves, the higher value of engagements and the speed of improvement we can achieve. The value of emotional connection can be quantified, according to the Harvard Business Review article The new science of customer emotions as customers’ relationships with a brand deepen to become fully connected, they are 52% more valuable on average than those who are ‘just’ highly satisfied. Being respectful of the dynamic within a client means that an advisor can be relevant not only for a single workshop or project but also for the long term, increasing the customer’s lifetime value.
In summary, agility has strong benefits both for organisations and advisors, but advisors should be mindful of the ‘human’ element within organisations and adjust their level of intensity accordingly to promote extended relationships.
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