In previous articles, we have outlined the overall process for finding the right add-on solution for any business. As Marlon stated in that article, the search for a new solution or for a solution full-stop starts with a problem. Identifying the problem is usually one of the hardest things. Not clearly identifying the issues at hand can be costly and a waste of invaluable time.

So in this article, I am going to break down the process of identifying the issues and discuss how to conduct a scope call. The purpose of a scope call is to understand the business processes and what the business needs, so we can find the right add-on solution and confirm that Xero itself is even the right fit.

What is a Scope Call?

In our business,, we help business owners find the right add-on solution, implement it for them and train the business’ users on Xero and the add-on. Every time any business owner or advisor contacts us asking for help to find the right add-on solution to connect with Xero, or maybe they need help to find out if Xero is the right solution for them, they are directed to book in an online one-hour scope call with Marlon or myself.

Think of the scope call as a fact-finding mission. My scope call introduction will often go like this…

“Hi everybody. Thank you for joining me today. The purpose of today’s call is for me to find out all about your business – what’s working and what’s not working. I need to understand who is in the business, what each person’s role is and what you do, so that I can help identify a potential solution to make your lives easier. Let’s start with getting to know who is here.”

The scope call is almost always conducted online with me sitting in my home office with a webcam and the business owner and key persons in the business sitting in a room at their office or in their accountant’s office. It is always important to get all the key people that will be using the new system and those that are instrumental in deciding whether the new system will go ahead.

It’s important to state here that a scope call is not a product demonstration and if you are starting your selling process with a one-size-fits-all product demonstration – yes, even a Xero demonstration – STOP! You are wasting your time telling anyone anything about a solution – no matter how much you believe in the benefits of using it – until you understand what that person or business needs. So start by listening and then talk. Not the other way around.

I like the analogy of building an arc. Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world has a famous quote:

Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arcs does.

For me, scope calls are the first stage in helping a business build an arc. The process of drilling down into the problems in the business and identifying the issues so you can find the right solution instead of using a band-aid solution never gets boring. It is such a fulfilling process if you do it right.

How to Conduct a Scope Call

Let’s now get back to the “how” of the scope call. A scope call will often follow the same process:

  1. Learn who is “in the room”
  2. Ask for a business overview
  3. Drill down into the key process first, e.g. ask about the day in the of life a sales representative
  4. Ask about the other key processes and understand them. Put yourself in the business as you ask questions. Think through what it’s like for the people in the business

The key processes you need to learn about any business is:

  • The Purchase process
  • The Sales process
  • The Job Management or Manufacturing process
  • The Staff process

When you are discussing each of these processes and finding out how they work in the business, ensure that you understand how it is done now and how they want it to be in the new system. Think like the person in the business – as they are stating what they do, visualise what they are saying and how it might work in the new system. Repeat the desired process back to them so they know that you understand what they want and also this continues to open the discussion further into other things they want and how they expect it to work.

Think Processes Not Features

I can’t stress enough how important it is during a scope call to listen. The scope call is not about you proving your worth as an advisor or acting like you already know the best solution for them or that all businesses are the same. Yes, there is certainly an element of similarity to business processes but no business is ever exactly the same and the business you are talking to certainly won’t believe you have understood their business processes unless you listen.

Don’t ever fall into the trap of saying “oh yes, I know a solution that does that. This “add-on” can do this and this “add-on” can do that”. Just listen to the process of the business and understand it fully. Explain at the end of the call that you will now go away and find some possible solutions that will solve their business pain points and make their lives easier.

The Number One Question

The most important question but often the last question when conducting a scope call should be “what is the biggest frustration in your business that you need to solve?” The answer to this question might come out for you during the call but ask for the question in the business owner’s own words. What keeps them up at night?

The answer to this question is the first problem that you need to solve when finding the right add-on solution and later demonstrating it to the business. Even if you know there are more important things to solve, this is the one that you must solve first. This is also the key selling point that is going to help you get the client over the line and engage your services as a cloud integrator or advisor.

In future articles, we will discuss the types of questions you can ask in a scope call in more detail specific to a particular industry. To ensure that you don’t miss out on any new how-to articles, reviews or comparisons of add-ons in the Xero ecosystem, sign up here.




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