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Why Accountants Still Struggle to Get Their Value From Their Accounting Clients 

One of the most common pieces of advice I give to our Create Your Dream Firm clients is to raise their prices. Because if you don’t raise your prices, you’ll never get your true value from your accounting clients. However, even with appropriately priced services, it can be a struggle to communicate your value and connect with high-value dream clients. If that’s the case, the cause is likely your sales process.

Selling To Accounting Clients With The Traditional Approach

You have your new, higher prices and you have a qualified prospective client. It’s time to talk about the sales process. There’s a traditional method, called the Sales Triangle, that most CPAs, EAs, and bookkeepers use to pitch to their clients. It breaks down the process into three familiar parts, putting the most emphasis on the presentation. Before we identify the problem with this method, let’s review each part of the sales process.

The Sales Triangle

accounting clients

Step 1: Probe

10-15% of the total time

The probe portion is the get-to-know-you section of the sales process. This is where you ask questions about your client and their business to determine how you can best serve them. 

Step 2: Present

40-50% of the total time 

In the traditional sales triangle, the presentation is your meat and potatoes. It’s the heart of the interaction, and it’s where you will explicitly outline your services and prices. 

Step 3: Close

30-40% of the total time

The last, but in this instance, most important step is the close. This is where you seal the deal, and sign your new client.

On the surface, this may seem like a perfectly fine breakdown. But, when you actually start applying this method to real clients, you’ll quickly see what the problem is…. You haven’t given yourself enough time to build trust with your prospective accounting client or to demonstrate the benefits of your services. To accurately do that, you’ll need a different approach. 

The most common reason accountants struggle to get paid their value is because they are skipping over the probe part of a sales interaction too quickly. This part of the process informs you on how to proceed, which services best suit them, and what is a realistic budget for their business. And because we know that to get better results, you need to make changes, we created our own sales triangle… The Inverted Sales Triangle.

The Inverted Sales Triangle

Step 1: Probe

50% of the total time

The first step of the inverted sales triangle is also the longest and most important. Instead of a few quick ice breaker questions, really take the time to get to know your client and their business.  

 

Step 2: Present

30-40% of the total time 

Although the percentage of your time that the presentation takes up has been reduced, this is still an essential part. Clearly define expectations and set your scope of services. 

 

Step 3: Close

Ideally 10% of your time, MAX 20%

When you’ve put in through prep and a solid presentation, closing shouldn’t take nearly as long. And that’s ideal because this is most people’s least favorite part of sales.

A New Way To Present To Your Accounting Clients

Although you are shifting your primary focus to the probe, the presentation portion is still a critical part of the process. Prepare thoroughly. This is the time to bracket your services and establish your value ladder. Describe your services and explicitly spell out their benefits and features, highlighting the bracket that you feel will serve their needs and fit their budget.

 How do you know which one to emphasize? That’s what the probe portion at the beginning of the meeting is for… What should you do if they say it’s too much? Move them down your value ladder, but make sure that you communicate exactly which benefits they are losing.

Features vs. Benefits

If you’re losing your prospective clients during the presentation part of your meeting, it’s likely because you are focusing too much on the feature and not enough on the benefit. Features should only be about 5% of your presentation. Features include things like bookkeeping, tax planning, and financial advisory. And while these services are extremely important, your client doesn’t care about the features. They want to know about the benefits. 

Benefits are the value that your service provides. For example, bookkeeping is a feature. The benefit of efficient bookkeeping is that your client now has accurate information to help make more informed financial decisions. Solid bookkeeping services will also help them avoid penalties. Highlighting the benefits of your services as opposed to simply saying what the service is will help you get paid what you’re worth.

Communication is Key

If you want your accounting clients to appreciate your value, then you need to communicate it clearly. Focus on how the services you provide can improve the life of your dream clients instead of emphasizing the feature itself. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t discuss the services you offer… An engagement letter with explicit service details will help prevent scope creep. But, rather to shift the attention to how you can make their life and their businesses better. When you do this and follow The Inverted Sales Triangle, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is to get paid what you’re worth.

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