4 min read

Are you underselling your accounting services?

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As an accountant, you understand what goes into each of the services you provide for clients. Those who need your services have varying degrees of understanding when it comes to accounting. 

Some business owners do their own bookkeeping, run reports, and even put together their budgets. Others keep receipts in a shoebox until the end of the year. Both are potentially great clients for your firm, but there’s nuance in how you’ll communicate the value of your services.

As the title suggests, you’re possibly underselling, but how? There are two primary ways: 

  • Selling what you do versus selling the benefits (aka “what’s in it for them”)
  • Tailoring those benefits to your potential clients

Both have a bit less to do with what exactly your firm offers and more to do with those whom you serve. And you may notice—neither of these accounting firm sales techniques directly deals with pricing. 

 

The difference between service benefits and function

Be honest, are you confident in the discovery process for your leads?

Sometimes we default to telling people what we do as accountants. But describing the function of our job, not the needs and benefits, is a disservice to your prospects and your firm. You describe what you do and give a price (either separated into a few packages or a custom estimate).

What you do + What they pay.

The point? If your typical sales call involves describing (in detail) the ins and outs of “what” you do for clients and then giving them some options, you’re likely underselling your firm.

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Ryan Lazanis of Future Firm defined price as “...the amount a customer is willing to pay for your goods and services.”

If a potential client comes to you, many times it’s to offload something from their plate (things like taxes, bookkeeping, and payroll). In their minds, there’s often a tension between cost and benefit. They know (or at least think they do) the “what” of your job. So every word muttered about reconciling, expense tracking, and even the software you use is immediately pushed away in their minds.

 

Instead, think about the benefit (as opposed to the “what”)

 

How do your services and the experience of your team help clients? Think about it for a minute. 

  • How much money does an average tax client save when employing your suggested strategy? 
  • What opportunities open up for them when you suggest ways to improve their cash reserves? 
  • How can businesses navigate good times (and bad) with the help of your forecasts and modeling?

Answering these questions leads to clear benefits for clients and, when communicated properly, higher revenue for your firm

 

Three steps to conveying the benefits of services

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1. Strive to understand 

Most scripts, formulas, and sales playbooks involve asking questions to get a feel for where leads stand with their accounting. The key to getting the most from the situation is listening intently and asking follow-up questions.

Most accounting sales content you find includes a version of the question: “What’s caused you to look for a different accounting partner for your business?”

It’s a necessary question, but you likely won’t get a detailed answer if you let it stop there. Never, like never ever, underestimate the power of following up. For example, you just asked the above question to a prospect. 

They say, “Yeah, we’ve had some great growth over the last year or two, and it could be time to get some help.”

Choose your own adventure here: Do you check that question off and move to the next? Or, do you say something like, “Oh, that’s great! So, tell me more about that. Just too many expenses to track, payroll? And if I may ask, are you doing the bookkeeping yourself?”

Ok, so it wasn’t a choose your own adventure; you should probably do the second one.

If a question doesn’t give you an iceberg (meaning, you know there’s a lot more there), then move on to the next. But when you can really dig into their answer and truly understand their needs:

  • The conversation seems more genuine to them
  • Keeps you present instead of getting nervous or going full script-reading robot
  • Allows your mind to automatically connect the “what” you do to a real-world, unique benefit for that prospect

2. Describe the problem

Here’s where the benefit of your experience, expertise, and instinct come into play. As the lead describes their situation (through genuine interest and detailed questions on your part), you begin to put the pieces together. 

You listen, like a financial savant, seeing:

  • All the roadblocks they’ve hit
  • The money they’ve left on the table (or lost entirely)
  • And (most importantly) multiple ways to help

But don’t simply jump to the end here. First, you have to reconvey what you’ve come to find out briefly. Someone once said (and it’s attributed to many), “If you can describe the potential problem buyers have well enough, they’ll think you have the solution.”

If you actively listen and don’t just move through your questions to get to the offer, you’ll likely be able to describe their situation within a few sentences.

3. Describe life after the problem

What you’re doing is something in the marketing space called the Before-After-Bridge. During the first two steps of our process, you’re getting a clear picture of the “before.” After communicating how things are back to them, it’s time to give them a picture of what life is like with your services.

Based on the answers to our fictitious conversation, you may say things like, we can:

  • Take a look at your previous tax filings to see if we can amend for a return.
  • Create both a budget and forecast to better control the growth of your business, and focus efforts.
  • Get a monthly executive summary of your finances, including every metric you need, so you still feel in control of your accounting—without the time investment.

Of course, this is all an example, but this turns a monthly or quarterly hassle into actionable financial data and potentially a quick ROI (with the amended returns). Once the client sees the potential future, you get to tell them that your firm is the bridge (before-after-bridge) to get them there.

 

Who has the time?!

The industry is going through big shifts and it’s difficult to find talent and get the time to have these in-depth conversations with current and potential clients. Botkeeper partners with firms, allowing them to open up their capacity via automated bookkeeping (among other things).

 
Check it out today!
 

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