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How to Present a Sageworks Report to a Client
Financial professionals are actively looking for ways to elevate their role and add value to the services they provide. Providing a Sageworks report as part of your management discussion is an excellent way to add such value. Here is the recommended way to provide these reports to your clients as part of the explanation of their financial statements.
Where possible, have the person drafting the financial statements automatically create a Sageworks report at least once a year for each set of financial statements with for-profit and nonprofit business clients.
PRESENTATION TIP: Focus the presentation on three or four specific issues in the client’s financials. This approach will allow you to guide the discussion to the key areas that need to be discussed.
The person who will present the report should have the report in Microsoft Word format, read the report, and take notes on a separate sheet of paper. The notes should center around three or four issues brought up in the report that the presenter would like to discuss with the client.
Liquidity received a poor score, and it looks like accounts receivable days are higher than the industry average. Ask Jane how she feels about getting paid on a timely basis. Are there just a few customers who pay late, or is this a chronic problem? Does Jane provide terms for early payment? Is Jane willing to charge for late payments?
PRESENTATION TIP: The presenter should NOT read the report to the client and try to justify each line or issue because this approach can quickly turn into an ineffective presentation.
PRESENTATION TIP: The purpose of the Sageworks report is not to provide an answer but to show the client you care and have taken real effort to evaluate their business for a meaningful discussion.
Leave the report with the client, and let them know you would be happy to discuss other issues that come up after the client has had a chance to read it.
This format ensures that the value in the report does not rely on the client reading it, but, rather, it is used to initiate and guide a meaningful discussion.
PRESENTATION TIP: Get your client involved by asking questions, not telling information. Asking questions also avoids sensitive areas.
Using Sageworks as Part of your Prospecting Efforts
Prospecting for New Clients and Differentiating your Firm
Sageworks reports should be used as an easy way to differentiate your firm and provide an excellent first impression.
Print and have on hand several sample reports with your firm’s branding. We provide you sample reports that can be downloaded from the User Support page. When you meet a prospect for the first time, bring a sample Narrative report and an Industry Data report on the relative industry. Show both of these to your prospect and ask, “Would you like to see how you compare?” Or request, “Let us do a financial evaluation of your business to see how we may be able to help you.” Then offer a written financial evaluation (Sageworks Report) of their business as part of a follow-up meeting. This strategy is an easy way to ask for their financial statements and will make a great impression at your second meeting.
In this case study, you will see that these firms used Sageworks to both win prospective clients and differentiate their firms.
The Green Bay office of a large accounting firm has won all 5 prospects for whom they offered to do a Sageworks report as part of a follow-up meeting. They show a prospect in the first meeting a sample Sageworks report and then offer to do a “written financial evaluation” as a follow-up meeting.
The Milwaukee office of a regional accounting firm uses the same technique and says they get a “WOW” every time they show the report on the second visit. They feel it sets them apart and gives them a competitive advantage.
Using Sageworks to Discover New Projects with your Clients
We provide you a Client Questionnaire that can be used with your existing clients to discover new opportunities and consulting projects. This questionnaire helps to pinpoint your client’s needs and troublesome areas.
How to Generate a Return on Investment
1) Use Sageworks with existing clients to increase the value of the management conference and increase your overall fees.
2) Use the management conference and Sageworks discussion to discover additional services you can provide. Advisory and profit enhancement projects may generate higher fees than compliance services.
3) Use Sageworks Projections to enable the delivery of two fee-generating services to clients:
a. To compare your client’s budgeted to actual cash flow on a quarterly or monthly basis.
b. To enhance bank loan packages that can be prepared for clients.
4) Win a higher percentage of your prospects at a higher price because of the WOW factor of presenting Sageworks at the 2nd meeting.
Case Study 1
In this case study, you will see that this firm used Sageworks to offer a value-added material to show clients, first hand, the extra measures she takes to offer a higher level of service.
A NASBA member has built her practice around the concept of value-added services. Sageworks is one of the clearly tangible examples of her additional value that she uses to cross-sell payroll and advisory services as well as justify her higher overall fees.
Case Study 2
In this case study, you will see that this firm was able to position Sageworks in such a way that it was able to create a higher level service (with a higher fee), which concentrated on more detailed Sageworks reports. NOTE: It is not recommended to charge for Sageworks on a per-report basis.
A small CPA firm in Fort Wayne, Indiana, purchased a Sageworks subscription to improve the overall quality of the service it was already providing. The firm provides mainly write-up, tax returns, tax planning, and new business planning for small-to-medium sized businesses.
An accountant at this firm began to offer the Narrative report to nearly all of his clients on a quarterly basis or once a year for his tax-only business clients. When he presented the reports to his clients, he would say, “Well, if you like this type of report, we do a much more detailed report with ratio analysis, industry comparisons, and narrative text.” For interested clients, he signed them up for a service he called “The Profit Analysis Report Service”. He offered a higher level service in which he would provide an edited, customized Snapshot Extreme report to his clients on a quarterly basis that he would discuss with them.
The accountant was able to provide all of his clients with a little something extra by presenting the Narrative reports. When discussing the financial statements, he was able to discover which clients were willing to seek more advice from his firm, and he began to elevate his role to that of an advisor. A-list clients that were interested in their “Profit Analysis Report Service” signed up to receive Narrative reports on a quarterly basis. The accountant had a dozen clients sign up for the higher level service, and he was able to easily recover his initial investment. In the end, this firm found that they could provide all of their clients with improved service while also offering extra services to help generate additional revenue.
Case Study 3
In this case study, you will see that this small firm inadvertently gained a new client simply by using Sageworks on an existing client.
A single person accounting firm in Florida was helping one of its clients prepare his business for sale. He ran a Sageworks report for the client’s business and showed it to the prospective buyer. The buyer was so impressed with the report and resulting conversation that he not only bought the client’s business but also became a client of the firm.